By David FerroniJune 9, 2010
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Army News Service, June 9, 2010) -- The thought process of deciding what kind of gift would be appropriate for a 235th birthday could be an overwhelming and worrisome task. Unless you are Ryan Newman, a 14-time tour winner on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Newman's primary sponsor -- the U.S. Army -- will turn 235 years old on Monday. The day before the official birthday of the military's largest branch, Newman will be driving the No. 39 U.S. Army Birthday Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway in a 400-lap Sprint Cup race. The hood and rear bumper (TV panel) of the Army car will read 235 Years Strong.
"There is no thought process for me about what would be the best gift for the Army's 235th birthday," said Newman. "Driving the U.S. Army Chevrolet to Victory Lane on Sunday trumps any and all birthday gift ideas as far as I am concerned. Just thinking about winning on the Army's birthday gets me excited. I know our Army Strong Soldiers would like nothing more than to see their birthday car celebrating a major victory."
For the record, the U.S. Army was born June 14, 1775. The June 14 birthday also coincides with Flag Day.
The timing of the Army birthday at Michigan adds to the personal and professional significance that Newman has for the 2-mile oval.
"I've always considered Michigan my home track," said the 32-year-old Newman, a native of South Bend, Ind. "When I was growing up my father and I would go to MIS to watch NASCAR races. I've always admired how the track has preserved the area's natural beauty. It's truly a special place for me."
Speaking of "special," Newman has had a few special moments at Michigan, including a pair of wins that came in back-to-back races at MIS -- August 2003 and June 2004. His overall record at Michigan includes: 17 starts, two wins, four top fives, four top 10s and one pole.
Newman, who started the season with DNFs (did not finish) in the first two races, has made a strong comeback and is a contender for making the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. With 12 races remaining before the Chase commences, Newman is in 14th place, 18 points from Chase territory. He was 12th entering last week's race in Pocono, but dropped two positions following a 14th-place finish.
"If you look at the standings and see who is barely in the Chase and who is barely out of the Chase, you just know the next 12 races are going to be a dogfight," said Newman. "We have shown that we have the potential to be up there. Being consistent and mistake-free are key as we head into the homestretch of the pre-Chase races."
(David Ferroni writes for the U.S. Army Racing)