Dare I say it? Hello (Ryan) Newman! Just when it looked like the Rocket was going to fade into obscurity, a call to stay out and not pit delivers Newman his first win at Richard Childress Racing, and his first since winning at the Brickyard in 2013. A 127 race run of futility is now a matter of history for the graduate Purdue University. talk about March Madness! NASCAR has its own Cinderella story.
“There’s a lot of guys in this sport that have never won, said Newman. “Going a long time without winning, you have confidence in your mind that you can do it. There’s guys that go their whole career and never win, and good drivers. You just got to stay humble. This sport, you walk away from it, there’s one guys that wins, 39 losers. You have to be humble walking into it that you’re probably not going to win that day. Odds are against you.”
Racing can be cruel. In his second full season of Cup racing in 2003, Ryan Newman won 11 poles and a series high 8 races in the last season before the Chase. Right alongside Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick, the Indiana native who turns 40 in December was one of NASCAR’s rising stars. Since then, the most he’s won in a season was 2, and that was 2004.
It’s not like Ryan Newman has been a failure. Besides the big win at Indy, he was the winner of the 2008 Daytona 500. Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet for the husky Hoosier.
Tony Stewart recruited Newman to join him at SHR, and during his time there, Newman largely languished in the shadows. When Harvick joined the gang at the end of 2013, Newman found himself out of a ride and on to RCR.
Until Sunday, Newman’s headlines mostly revolved around things you’d probably rather not be remembered for. In 2014, Ryan Newman darn near won a Chase without a win. Then late last season, Newman traded paint and rattled sabres with Stewart, the former suggesting his old friend might have a couple of screws loose.
The fact that Newman went so long without winning reminds you how competitive it is at racing’s top levels. He didn’t forget how to drive. It all just has to come together: car, track position, clean air, good pit stops, smart calls by the crew chief. Luke Lambert is on Cloud Nine. Six years he’s been doing his job and this is his first win in the Monster Energy Cup Series.
Days like this and the ones the preceded do teach you to savor the moment. How many more like the Camping World we won’t be saying “Goodbye Newman” anytime soon.
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