News: Newman wants to close the deal at Talladega, weekend includes induction into Talladega Walk of Fame
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
TALLADEGA, Ala. - With 50 percent of the Chase races completed, U.S. Army driver Ryan Newman is looking for better success in the second half of NASCAR's playoff-style championship format.
After three-straight Sprint Cup finishes between 18 and 25, Newman's No. 39 team righted the ship Saturday night with a 10th-place result at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"We need to have some special runs in the next five races," said Newman, who is currently 10th in driver points. "We definitely have the potential to do well at each of the next five tracks. We just need to avoid the bad breaks that plagued us during the first five Chase races."
But avoiding bad breaks in his U.S. Army Chevrolet during Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is always a major challenge at the 2.66-mile oval.
"No matter which way you dissect the numbers, we haven't produced the results in the past couple of years at the restrictor-plate races in Daytona and Talladega," noted Newman," who did win the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008. "However, our recent sub-par finishes at the restrictor-plate races were not from a lack of performance, but mostly from being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Newman is indeed correct about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In both of the Daytona races this season, he was leading in each event with a few laps remaining, but fell to finishes of 23rd and 25th respectively due to factors beyond his control.
"We all know what usually happens in the closing laps of a restrictor-plate race," stated Newman, who was also in contention in the April Talladega race. "If you're one of the fortunate teams that can avoid trouble while running up front in the closing laps, then you have a pretty good shot at winning. I really feel we're due to once again drive the soldiers' car to Victory Lane."
Newman and the rest of the Sprint Cup field will have to contend with two new rule changes this weekend that could make tandem drafting more difficult. The rule changes include a slight increase in the size to the restrictor plate openings and a decrease setting in the radiator's pressure relief valve.
"We'll have to wait and see what effect the new rule changes will have on restrictor-plate racing," said Newman. "We all have our theories but won't know for sure until we actually get on the track this weekend. Personally, I think there will be less tandem drafting than in the past because of the rule changes. But weather will also dictate how long we can push each other before swapping. Cooler temperatures the better."
Whichever way the 43 cars will race on Sunday at NASCAR's longest track, Newman would like to snap his four-race Talladega jinx that includes finishes of 36th, 35th, 23rd and 25th.
"It would sure be nice to have a smooth race at Talladega and bring home a solid finish," said Newman. "We have the potential, just need to avoid trouble."
Induction Into Talladega Walk of Fame
Newman will be inducted into the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame on Saturday. The Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame in downtown Talladega is a focal point saluting NASCAR's greatest names and a tribute to one of racing's brightest stars -- the late Davey Allison of Hueytown, Ala. Developed in 1994, the Talladega-Texaco Walk of fame has inducted one active driver and up to two inactive drivers since 1995 on a vote by fans chosen from a ballot of nominees selected by strict guidelines. Also being inducted is the late Alfred "Speedy" Thompson one of the most successful drivers in the late 1950s.
Newman's Talladega Career Cup Record:
Year St Fn
2002 8 43
2003 8 39
2004 17 11
2005 5 39
2006 18 33
2007 28 9
2008 21 8
2009 25 3
2010 16 35
2011 23 25
No. 39 Over-the-Wall Crew (city is hometown)
Front-tire changer: Scott Brzozowski, Sterling Heights, Mich.
Front-tire carrier: Brad Robison, Ithaca, N.Y.
Rear-tire changer: Jonathan Sherman, Monroe, La.
Rear-tire carrier: James Houk, Fair Play,Mo.
Jackman: Andrew Turner, Coloma, Mich.
Gasman: Andy Rueger, Seymour, Ind.
2nd Gasman: Michael Moore, Springfield, Mass.
7th Man/Windshield: Jay Guarneri, Naples, Fla.
Crew Chief: Tony Gibson, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Car Chief: Kevin Pennell, Kannapolis, N.C.
Spotter: Jimmy Kitchens, Hueytown, Fla.
Engine Specialist: Jay Nolan, Jacksonville, Fla.
Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports
Engineers: Johnny Klausmeier, Perry Hall, Md.
Wes Gantt, Taylorsville, N.C.
Shock Specialist : Brian Holshouser, Charlotte
Tire Specialist: Jeff Zarrella, Southington, Conn.
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