Ryan Newman is enjoying his best start to a season since joining the Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2009.
After four NASCAR Sprint Cup races, the driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet has three top 10s and a average finish of 10.5. Had it not been for a late-race wreck in the Daytona 500, Newman's average finish would easily be in the single digits.
The average finish of 10.5 is miles ahead of where he was at the same time during the past two seasons. When he made the Chase in 2009, Newman's average finish after four races was 27.75. Last year when he came up short of making the Chase, his average finish was 26.25 after four events.
Newman has also led 70 laps in the first four races, that is seven more then he led the entire 2010 campaign.
"We ended the season strong in 2010 and have done a good job in carrying the momentum into the new year," said Newman, who is currently tied for third in the driver point standings with teammate Tony Stewart. "It's a tribute to everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for staying focused and being committed to the big picture. It's always nice to jump out to a good start so you're not playing catch up. We are capable of winning races and making our Army Strong Soldiers proud of their team."
There hasn't been a race this season when Newman hasn't been strong. He was leading the Daytona 500 before being collected in an accident with a few laps remaining. He followed a 22nd-place result at Daytona with fifth-place finishes in Phoenix and Las Vegas and 10th in Bristol.
"I wish we could have started off Daytona better than we did, but it was still twice as good as the last couple of years," noted Newman, a 14-time tour winner. "The way we ran in Las Vegas was encouraging to say the least. The mile-and-a-half and 2-mile tracks were our Achilles heel in the past. We need to continue to do well on these types of tracks, including at Fontana this weekend."
Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California will be another test for Newman and the No. 39 Army team. At his last race in Fontana (October), Newman finished fifth, which was part of his late-season surge.
"I am confident about this weekend, but we have to continue to attack and race smart," explained Newman, who captured the pole in his first Cup start at Fontana in 2002. "It's now a shorter race (400 miles) and we'll have to adjust. I feel that we are a team capable of consistently running in the top five."
A Tribute to PaYS
Newman's No. 39 Chevrolet will pay tribute at the Auto Club 400 to the Army's Partners for Youth Success (PaYS) program, which gives Soldiers from the Army and Army Reserve a leg up on civilian employment.
Under the PaYS program, when a Soldier leaves active-duty or Initial Entry Training (IET) for the Army Reserve, they will receive a guaranteed job interview with the civilian employer they chose as part of their enrollment in the program. Currently, there are approximately 400 companies participating in PaYS, more than 50 of which are Fortune 500 companies.
The logos for PaYS and Haas Automation, a new partner to the PaYS program, will be featured on the hood of Newman's Chevrolet. Haas Automation, which is based in Oxnard, Calif., is America's leading builder of CNC machine tools and co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing team.
Stewart-Haas Racing PR