NASCAR Notes: A Home Coming For The Newmans
By Dave Grayson
After the fun filled pomp and circumstance, that comes with winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, was concluded, one had to wonder if Ryan Newman found himself whistling that old John Denver tune: “Hey it’s good to be back home again.” The South Bend, Indiana native found himself celebrating in a very large way after winning the Crown Royal Presents The Samuel Deeds 400, powered by Big Machine Records (dot) Com, at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Professionally speaking, Newman’s latest Sprint Cup Series win could not have arrived at a better time. On a personal level, there’s simply not enough adjectives to describe how much this win at the historic Brickyard meant to this driver. Newman later explained that winning at this speedway in a stock car has been a long time dream of his. The dream came true on this Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis and it only took Newman 2 hours, 36 minutes and 22 seconds to make it happen.
As far as his personal stats goes, Newman led the race four times, for a total of 45 laps, en route to his first win of the season and his 17th career Sprint Cup win. Newman won this race from the pole position marking his fifth win in 50 pole starts. He is only the third driver to win from the Coors Light Pole at Indianapolis joining Kevin Harvick-2003 and Jimmie Johnson-2008.
Newman’s Indy win also helps his aspirations for making the 2013 Chase For The Championship line up. He’s now 16th in the rankings, 25 points away from the coveted top ten required to earn a title berth. He’s also in the running for a wild card berth at the moment, and a second win could possibly ice that situation.
Newman’s time in his native mid west area was time well spent, not to mention highly productive. It began on Wednesday, July 24th, in Rossburg, Ohio, the home of the Eldora Speedway which is, ironically, owned by his boss Tony Stewart. Newman was there to participate in the historic NASCARCamping World Truck Series race. It was the first time a NASCAR national touring series raced on dirt in over 40 years. Newman finished third in this race and was a major player in the outcome of a very exciting green-white-checker finish.
Then on Saturday, July 27th, Newman was lined up dead last on Indy’s pit row waiting for his turn to qualify for the Sprint Cup event. He turned a lap of 187.531 MPH, a new track record, to take the pole in the final moment from Jimmie Johnson. The following day he disappointed a dominant Jimmie Johnson again by winning the race. All of these impressive accomplishments occurred within a period of four days.
It was only inevitable that the subject of Newman’s employment status would have to be addressed during the midst of an Indy victory celebration. It’s well known that, in recent weeks, Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Newman would not be returning to their #39 team. However Newman, with his driving skills, engineering background and team player attitude, instantly became the highest ranked free agent in the Sprint Cup Series. If his professional stock was that high before the Indy race, imagine what that stock is worth now.
Making Newman’s Indiana home coming weekend even more special was the fact that his entire family was there to help with the celebration in victory lane. Newman, flanked by his wife, children, sister and parents led the parade to Indy’s famous start-finish line for the ceremonial kissing of the bricks.
In past NASCAR events at the brickyard we have observed the priceless sight of young children being enticed by their parents to join in the kissing of the bricks. Most of them, including the Newman children, were hesitant to participate in this tradition. That’s easy to understand. After all, they were taught to refrain from putting their mouths on things that are “yucky.” Make no mistake about it, after 160 laps of Goodyear rubber running over those bricks, the Indy start-finish line was indeed very “yucky.” Ryan Newman will be the first to tell you that “yucky” never tasted so good.