There’s no doubt Ryan Newman is riding on a personal high as he rolls into Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400.
Not only has Newman and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team scored two consecutive top-10 finishes, Newman welcomed his second daughter, Ashlyn Olivia, on Monday, July 16 at 12:20 p.m. EDT.
After a little more than a week at home with his three girls – wife Krissie and daughters Brooklyn and Ashlyn – Newman is ready to return to the racetrack and take care of business. And the South Bend, Ind., native hopes his own personal bliss can translate into professional elation and success on his home turf at the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval.
For the 11-year Sprint Cup veteran, racing at Indianapolis isn’t significant just because he is a Hoosier. Instead, it’s the history of the 103-year-old Speedway that makes this weekend’s race one of the most important events he competes in each season.
Newman, who prides himself on carefully studying the history of the sport, considers the Indianapolis racetrack to be the cornerstone of the history of auto racing.
So for Newman, it is an honor to simply walk through the Speedway’s Gasoline Alley as he knows he is following in the footsteps of some of his heroes. And he admits he has caught himself thinking about whose tire tracks he could be following as he travels down the long straightaways.
While Newman is fascinated with the history at the Brickyard, his performance at the track has been lackluster.
In his 11 Sprint Cup visits to Indianapolis, Newman has started outside of the top-eight just two times. But while he has made a habit of starting near the front of the Brickyard 400 field, he has not enjoyed the same kind of success when it comes to recording solid finishes in the 160-lap race. Newman has just one top-five at Indianapolis – a fourth-place effort during his 2002 rookie campaign.
Newman wants to turn that stat around. And with his team’s recent top-10 runs, perhaps Newman & Company have the momentum to do just that.
Three weekends ago, Newman finished fifth at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. It was his first top-10 finish at the superspeedway since his win in the 2008 Daytona 500. More importantly, it was the No. 39 team’s first top-10 in more than three months. The following weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Newman finished 10th.
Currently 14th in points with one win to his credit this season, Newman is one of several drivers involved in a hotly contested battle for one of two wild card spots for the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. While top-fives and top-10s are good, what Newman would really like is to engineer another win for his No. 39 Quicken Loans team.
And a win at the Brickyard wouldn’t just give Newman his own page of history at the 2.5-mile track, it would also greatly help his team’s quest to make this season’s Chase. Of course, too, it would be difficult to find a better congratulatory baby gift than a big win for this new, second-time dad.