It could be argued that there’s no track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit Ryan Newman feels more at home than at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
It was at the 1.5-mile track where Newman first made a big splash. And there’s no doubt Newman has made himself right at home in Charlotte since the beginning of his stock car career. He’s hoping the track will once again prove to be home sweet home for his No. 39 Quicken Loans Racing team.
In 2001, in just his third Sprint Cup start while running a partial schedule, Newman shocked the field with an ultra-fast qualifying lap at Charlotte, which earned him the pole position for that year’s Coca-Cola 600. That feat tied Newman with Mark Martin for earliest career Sprint Cup pole.
The following season, Newman once again stunned his competitors when he claimed victory in the 2002 NASCAR All-Star Race in his rookie season. The win was Newman’s first in the Sprint Cup Series, and he won the non-points race in dramatic fashion. On that night, Newman wasn’t even qualified to race in the main event at the start of the night but raced his way in by winning what is now known as the Sprint Showdown.
In the main event, Newman benefited from the inversion of the race field for the final 20 laps. He took the lead two laps into the final segment and never looked back. Although Dale Earnhardt Jr., made a late-race dash, Newman beat him to the finish by .158 of a second to become only the second rookie to win the All-Star Race.
Since that first start at Charlotte back in 2001 when he grabbed the top spot on the starting grid, the South Bend, Ind., native has continued to rack up pole positions at the track. He now has nine poles to his credit at Charlotte – the most of any active Sprint Cup driver. In fact, he is second in all-time poles at the 1.5-mile oval behind the legendary David Pearson, who had 14.
And while he has not recorded a points-paying Sprint Cup win at the racetrack, he does have two wins in addition to his All-Star Race feat – an ARCA victory in 2000 and a NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in 2005.
It’s obvious that the fast, high-banked, oval nestled in the heart of NASCAR country is somewhere Newman feels right at home, which is perfect since Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender, adorns the No. 39 Chevy this weekend at Charlotte. Race fans in attendance at Charlotte, as well as those watching at home, will be pushing Newman to “Bring It Home” in the form of a top-five finish in this Sunday’s 600-mile race in hopes that they may be one of the lucky five fans chosen to have their mortgages paid for a month, should Newman be able to accomplish the task.
Consumers can enter the sweepstakes by visiting www.qlracing.com and are encouraged to increase their chances of winning a month-long vacation from their mortgage by entering weekly. Participants also can win additional entries by inviting their friends and family to participate.
It certainly isn’t an easy accomplishment, by any means. The Coca-Cola 600 is the Sprint Cup Series’ longest race, and it requires tremendous mental, physical and emotional fortitude to log 400 laps around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval.
Newman has proven he knows what it takes to get around Charlotte, despite the fact that a win in a points-paying Sprint Cup race has so far escaped him. Perhaps this is the weekend where he’ll finally be able to “Bring it Home.”