By David FerroniJune 10, 2009
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Army News Service, June 9, 2009) -- How sweet would it be for Ryan Newman to capture a win at his home track on the day his primary sponsor celebrates its 234th birthday'
"Very sweet and very special," said Newman, whose recent hot streak has catapulted him to fourth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver point standings. "We've been on a nice roll lately, but victory has eluded us and that's our ultimate goal."
The double incentive will be there for Newman and his new Stewart-Haas Racing team as the Cup circuit heads to Michigan International Speedway for Sunday's running of the LifeLock 400.
Newman has always called MIS his home track due to the location of his hometown of South Bend, Ind., and where he would frequently watch races as a youngster.
Adding to Newman's home-track excitement will be the U.S. Army's 234th birthday on Sunday. The military branch, which sponsors Newman's Chevrolet Impala SS, was born on June 14, 1775. The June 14th birthday also coincides with Flag Day.
"We're ripe for a victory," stated Newman, who is on a streak of six straight top 10s, with five of the last six being top fives. "To drive the Soldiers' car to victory lane on the Army's birthday at my home track would have a lot of extra meaning. We can do it, we've been knocking at the door. We're all excited about Tony's (Stewart) win at Pocono last week and know that we can also get there in the U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevy."
It's not that Newman has never celebrated in victory lane - he has done so 13 times in his Cup career, including a pair of wins at MIS's two-mile track. His two wins at the Michigan track were back-to-back -- August 2003 and June 2004.
"Getting a solid handle on the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks is what we've been working hard on," noted Newman. "These are the tracks that make up the majority of the schedule so it's vital to have strong performances on them as we head into the stretch of making the Chase."
Newman's six straight top-10 finishes lifted him 13 positions in driver points. He went from 17th to fourth during this period. The last time he claimed six straight top 10s was late in the 2003 season.
"We've worked hard as a team to obtain our recent finishes. Whether it has been pit strategy or just fixing mechanical problems during the race. We're 100 percent focused and never give up. It's been really a group effort -- Tony Stewart (owner & teammate) Tony Gibson (crew chief) Bobby Hutchens (competition director) and Matt Borland (technical director) -- a lot of people have been instrumental in helping make the U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet faster each week."