Two-hundred and thirty-seven years ago, our Nation’s leaders established the Continental Army, beginning a rich heritage of successfully defending this great country and her citizens.
This weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Ryan Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will help celebrate the continued honor, loyalty and bravery of our Soldiers in this noble calling as Newman takes the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet into the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.
Since its inception in June 1775, the U.S. Army has served as the backbone of our Nation. And since taking the wheel of the Soldiers’ car in 2009, Newman has had the opportunity to witness first-hand the courage and selfless service of the Army Strong Soldiers he represents. South Bend, Ind., native Newman wears the U.S. Army logo that adorns the chest of his uniform and the hood of his racecar with great pride.
As such, a victory in the Quicken Loans 400 would be the ultimate “thank you” Newman could offer, something Newman has done 16 times in his Sprint Cup career, twice at Michigan.
Those Michigan wins came in successive visits to the 2-mile, D-shaped oval (August 2003 and June 2004). In 2003, Newman started on the outside pole and led 32 laps en route to the win. In 2004, he started fourth and led 22 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag. Augmenting those triumphs is a pole (June 2005) and five top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 22 career Sprint Cup starts.
Yet after those back-to-back wins, Newman struggled in his return trips to Michigan. He found very little luck in the Irish Hills, as no more top-10s were recorded until last season.
In 2011, Newman and Co. took a page from its U.S. Army counterparts, where its Soldiers put the mission first with a never-quit attitude and a refusal to accept defeat. Together with crew chief Tony Gibson, Newman refocused and analyzed his past performances at Michigan and devised a chassis setup that worked for the racetrack and his aggressive driving style. Their collective fortitude paid off in 2011, as Newman earned a sixth-place finish in June and a fifth-place result in August.
A new challenge awaits the U.S. Army Racing Team at Michigan – fresh pavement. The fresh grip that will be available through the newly repaved track’s sweeping corners has enabled drivers in recent testing to tour the 2-mile oval at speeds of up to 215 mph approaching the corners, which is roughly 25 mph faster than the average pole speed for the Sprint Cup race at Michigan last August.
Newman and Gibson will again take a page from their U.S. Army brethren where, in the face of white-knuckle speeds, they’ll maintain the strength to complete the mission, which is winning the race. And that, on the 237th birthday of the U.S. Army, would be icing on the cake.