Ryan Newman’s bright side: He’s not in Kansas anymore

jutter@charlotteobserver.comOctober 8, 2013 

— Ryan Newman could use a good rebound from what turned out to be a forgettable performance at Kansas last weekend.

He certainly is at the right place at the right time.

Newman got caught up in a wreck Sunday with Justin Allgaier at Kansas Speedway, which left him with a 35th-place finish and dropped him from seventh to 12th in the Sprint Cup standings.

If there is a bright side for a driver who might be out of the running for the championship with six races to go, Charlotte Motor Speedway this week could be it.

“I think we ended up sixth if I remember right in the Coke 600 (in May), but we had a good car and were in position at the end. I’ve been in position several times at the Coke 600,” Newman said. “I’ve been close at Charlotte. It’s one of my favorite race tracks. I look forward to going back.”

Although he is winless in 25 Cup starts at Charlotte, he has excelled at qualifying. Entering this weekend’s Bank of America 500, Newman has nine poles at CMS, including three in the fall race.

His race-day performance is not exactly bad, either. He has four top-five and nine top-10 finishes. Newman’s best finish at CMS has been second, twice – in the 2003 October race and the 2009 May race.

“Obviously I have been successful on qualifying nights there,” Newman said. “So, I look forward to that, as well. A good rebound weekend from what we had in Kansas would be good for not just me but for everybody.”

While’s Newman’s 73-point deficit to leader Matt Kenseth might seem insurmountable, Newman isn’t giving up.

“I’m entirely, 100percent focused on 2013 and having an opportunity. I mean, there’s a sixth of the season still left,” he said. “We have a lot of great opportunities, a lot of good race tracks to go to.

“We can do good for our sponsors and ourselves and prove that – as I said before several times – Indianapolis was a great weekend for us, and we need to show that we can duplicate that.”

Newman and team co-owner Tony Stewart, who finished seventh, ran well at Charlotte during May. Teammate Danica Patrick struggled and ended up 29th.

Returning to the track this week, much has changed at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Stewart remains out with two broken bones in his right leg, and Mark Martin has been driving his car. Newman is leaving the organization at season’s end to join Richard Childress Racing, and Patrick has continued to struggled in her rookie season.

A strong performance by Newman – the only SHR driver to make the Chase – could be a good morale boost for the organization.

“We’re mathematically a long ways out, but we’re mathematically not out of it,” Newman said. “Realistically, yeah, it’s going to be a challenge, but we can move up.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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