Newman drives Army Chevy to first win
July 18, 2011
LOUDON, N.H. (Army News Service, July 18, 2011) -- As Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race was winding down at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman performed a delicate balancing act in his No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet.
He was forced to conserve fuel, but still drive aggressively. The end result was Newman claiming his first victory of the season, the 15th of his career and third at the 1.058-mile New England track.
It was also the first win for Newman driving the U.S. Army-sponsored Chevrolet.
Newman was on the edge of not having enough fuel to finish the 301-lap race, but managed to hold off his teammate and team owner Tony Stewart. Stewart charged late in the race to finish runner-up in his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobile 1 Chevrolet.
The 1-2 finish by the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers mirrored the start of the race with Newman and Stewart starting on the front row -- Newman on the pole and Stewart on the outside pole.
It was the first 1-2 start for Stewart-Haas Racing and also the first 1-2 finish for the team, which is in its third year of competition.
“Man, this is one perfect weekend,” Stewart said. “It was a sweet 1-2 qualifying and 1-2 in the race. I am so proud of my buddy (Newman) there standing on top of his car, He deserved it.”
Driving the Soldiers' car to Victory Lane was something Newman talked about all week. And in his many post-race interviews he made a point in each to thank the Army Strong Soldiers, who he has represented on the NASCAR circuit since the 2009 season.
"This win is for the Soldiers!" exclaimed Newman. "We appreciate all the things they have done and do. They make all the difference, and wearing their uniform gives us so much inspiration and fight.”
Despite fuel concerns, Newman's Army race car was dominant throughout the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. Newman led six different times for a race high 119 laps, including the final 72 laps. The next closest in laps led was Kurt Busch with 66, whom Newman fought off for the lead in the late stages of the race.
While he did not relinquish the lead to Busch, those last 72 laps were nail-biters as Newman was constantly being told by crew chief Tony Gibson to save fuel. At one point he was informed he could be as much as eight laps short.
"I never believed we were going to make it," said Gibson. "We were definitely a solid two to three laps short from making it. I was hounding Ryan on the radio to save fuel. I am sure he got tired of hearing it. It was time to showcase what he can do as far as driving and saving fuel. He did an awesome job."
Newman’s weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway started off as well as it ended. The 33-year-old not only won the Cup race from the pole, he also won Saturday’s Whelen Modified Series race from the pole.
Newman was candid explaining his success at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he won his first career Cup race in September 2002.
"I've always said about this track that you have to only take what it will give you. Track position is important because it's so hard to pass here," Newman said.
To make sure that Newman and his U.S. Army Chevrolet maintained the all-important track position, Gibson's master plan for how many tires to take during the team's five pit stops was perfectly calculated.
Only once did Gibson call for four fresh tires. The other four times he called for two right-side tires only. The short two-tire pit stops kept Newman in striking distance.
"Our strategy was to stay up front, keep Ryan in clean air," explained Gibson. "We knew if we could do that we had a shot to win."
Newman was quick to credit Gibson and the pit crew.
“Tony made one great call after another,” he noted. "It was truly a team effort, just like our Soldiers do every day."
The victory lifted Newman from ninth to eighth-place in the driver standings. He is now one point shy of Jeff Gordon in seventh-place.
Stewart remains 11th in points.
Following Newman and Shttps://core.us.army.mil/content/edit_content/61803/tewart past the checkered flag were Denny Hamlin (third), Joey Logano (fourth) and Jimmie Johnson (fifth).
The Sprint Cup Series has the coming weekend off. The next race is July 31, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.