Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Newman On The Rise
There hasn’t been much talk about Ryan Newman since his upset win at Phoenix earlier this Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Many have already written off the veteran driver and the entire No. 31 team before the beginning of the playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway. They haven’t led laps or showed the speed that others have. However, it may not be time to sleep on Newman yet. In fact, you might want to start taking him and his team more seriously heading into the final ten races.
Frankly, what the Indiana native has accomplished the last few weeks has been rather impressive. Despite qualifying outside the top-10, he has managed to finish seventh or better in the last four races. In addition to that, during Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, Newman ended the night third after restarting eighth with two laps to go.
This is something that Newman has proven to proficient at in previous years – getting the most his equipment and staying in the hunt. In fact, a similar stretch to the one he’s on now nearly won him a championship in 2014. He finished runner-up in the standings that year, so what would stop him from possibly doing the same thing in 2017? Nothing if we’re honest.
While playoffs are intended to reward wins more than anything, consistency is still a critical part of success. If Newman can continue to string together top-10’s, then it’s foolish not to take him seriously. Although some may point to the fact they aren’t at the same competition level as drivers like Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Larson as a reason why they won’t win the title. However, the fact they’ve been able to hang with the best despite not having the outright speed says a lot. If they can see some improvement, they could be contending forwins.
Now, Newman does have some issues he needs to address. The team is going to be at a disadvantage having only five playoff points to start with. Failing to run up front throughout the entire duration of an event due to failing to qualifying well has proven to be the biggest downside to their current run as they don’t accumulate a lot of stage points. These are two things that should be emphasized by Richard Childress Racing heading into Chicago and need to be fixed going forward if they want to survive eliminations.
Problems aside, keep your eye on this team because, despite the lack of attention they are receiving, it should not surprise anyone if the Rocket Man manages to sneak his way into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist
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