It has been a tough start to the season for Stewart Haas Racing’s, Ryan Newman.After missing the Chase in 2012, the expectations were high for this team.
Newman’s slow start to the season sees him sitting 31st in the standings.His fifth place finish in the Daytona 500 has been overshadowed by tire wear issues and engine woes at Las Vegas.
“I missed a shift,” Newman said. “I missed the shift because of the restart, but that’s my responsibility, not those guys in front of me. It was a disappointing day for the Quicken Loans team. It’s entirely on me. I could point fingers at the final restart, but it was still my fault.”
Now Newman and his team need to dig out of a hole.
The good news for Newman is even in this point system, he can climb his way into the Chase. In 2012, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon both had slow starts to the season and both made the Chase, albeit via the wildcard.
So it can be done but they have to start finishing races. The downside of this point system is you can’t afford to have many bad finishes. Newman needs points and that means wins; this weekend could be the perfect opportunity for him to just that.
It was at BMS that Newman earned his nickname the “Rocketman” with his record setting pole in 2003. If Newman can start up front that gives him one advantage-pit stall number one.
“It’s huge. When you start up front, your emotions are pretty calm because you’ve got a lot of things going your way. You’re starting in a good position, you’ve got good pit selection and all those things. And it’s really pretty cool going into turn one on that first lap.”
Newman has not won at BMS but he three poles, one top five, and 12 top 10 finishes. In 22 starts he has completed 93 percent of the laps.
Trouble is always lurking at BMS. You might not initially be involved in an incident on the track but there is nowhere to hide here. Track position and being near or up front is important.
“If something happens in front of you, it may not be your fault, but you can get caught up in somebody else’s wreck in the blink of an eye. You have to really be on your toes at Bristol. Everything happens so fast there. You don’t have time to think or blink.”
This is a very critical race for this team. NASCAR changed some of the competition rules following the 2012 season. Starting the fourth race of the season the current seasons owner points set the field in case of a rainout, among other things.
Newman is 31st in the standings and with no top 35 rule in effect this season, this season more than ever Newman is in the hot seat. He can ill afford to not finish this race.
At only four races into the season you wouldn’t normally say that this weekend is a make or break weekend for a driver. There is plenty of racing left this season. Plenty of opportunity to gain some points but only in the first few races do we see the points swing either positive or negative.
History tells us that usually the standings don’t see drastic shifts as the season goes on. Again, the exception the rule would be Gordon and Kahne who didn’t make their moves until well into the season.
Newman looks to jump start his season this weekend and hopefully jump starts his run for the Chase.