Prior to the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, NASCAR made a big change-to-the playoff system. However, Ryan Newman showed that consistency can still get the job done.
It was announced late into the 2013 season that Newman would make the jump from Stewart-Haas Racing to Richard Childress Racing starting with the 2014 Daytona 500. He would be paired up with Luke Lambert as his crew chief, while driving the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet.
Over the course of his career, Newman has been fairly consistent. 2003, looked to be a career year as he tallied 8 wins, 17 top-five finishes, along with 22 top-10’s and a career-high 11 poles. Thus, Newman’s nickname is “The Rocketman.”
However, he hasn’t had a multiple win season since 2004. Newman didn’t win in 2014, but the aforementioned “c” word---, consistency -- played a huge impact on his year. The veteran of RCR led his team to only five top-five finishes and 16 top-10’s during 2014.
Although his statistics are not too strong, he was the most confident driver at Richard Childress Racing, and had a career best average finish of 12.7. However, by the All Star Race, the No. 31 team had established themselves as a top-tier team. Even if the team was not getting the best results, they had confidence. After the second Pocono race in early August, Newman was 5th in points. That was the highest Newman had ever been in points in the regular season. The Chase for the Sprint Cup was approaching and he had no victories. Newman entered he Chase for the Sprint Cup tied for the final seed.
He entered The Chase with nothing to lose. During the five-race stretch in The Chase between Dover and Martinsville, Newman accumulated five consecutive top-10 finishes. After his 3rd --place finish at Martinsville, Newman finished outside of the top ten in the last two races of the Eliminator Round. Newman would have missed the Championship Round of The Chase if it weren’t for moving Kyle Larson out of the way on the last corner of the last lap at Phoenix. He beat Jeff Gordon by a mere point to advance to the final round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“If Kyle Larson was in my shoes, he’d have done the same exact thing,” Newman said. I didn’t take him out. He still finished the race. I did what I had to do and tried to keep it as clean as I possibly could. I don’t like racing that way, but there’s a lot on the line here and we kept digging.”
In the last race of the year, Newman came up one spot short of his first career championship. Kevin Harvick won the race and the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway while Newman finished second following an impressive comeback after racing outside the top- 10 early in the 400- mile race.
“We kept coming back the entire season and made out best finish our last finish,” said Newman. “It’s disappointing don’t get me wrong. I was just one of the guys that had a shot at it and was happy to be in that position. It gives me motivation for the off-season and to get started at Daytona.”
As the off-season is almost half over, the guys in the RCR shop are working hard for the 2015 season. Newman performed his best when it counted at the end of 2014. He will look to keep up that momentum moving into Daytona and look to win his 2nd Daytona 500. If the team does that, they can cruise for the next 25 races.
Newman was critiqued by many for not winning in 2014, but shockingly made it into the Championship Round. The driver of the No. 31 car would like to silence those critics with a win or two in 2015. Winning has been hard to come by for Newman. He had one win in each season between 2010 through 2013 with SHR. Newman will look to start a new winning streak, beginning in 2015.
Ty Dillon and Brian Scott will share the No. 33 car for RCR for approximately 10-15 races in the 2015 season.
Dillon raced the No. 33 car twice in 2014. Making his Sprint Cup Series debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, Dillon finished 29th. In his second start at Phoenix in November, Dillon finished 26th. However, in the Nationwide Series, 2014 was a successful season for the grandson of Richard Childress.
In his first full time season in the Nationwide Series, Dillon won at Indianapolis. Beating the likes of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, Dillon proved that he was ready for the elite.
Dillon will drive the No. 33 Cheerios Chevrolet in the Daytona 500, where he has the potential to earn a solid finish.
Scott raced the No. 33 Shore Lodge Chevrolet six times in 2014. Scott’s average finish in those six races was 32.3, with a pole at Talladega. That pole makes Scott eligible for the 2015 Sprint Unlimited. Shore Lodge, the primary sponsor of Scott in the Nationwide Series is owned by his father, Joe Scott. However, in 175 career NASCAR Xfinity Series races, he has never won. This makes for questions on Scott’s future in NASCAR. He came extremely close to winning multiple Xfinity Series events in 2014, yet didn’t have the right amount of luck to score a victory.
Dillon is going to pilot the No. 33 at Pocono in August, and Scott is expected to drive the car for as many as 10 races in 2015.