By admin | June 4, 2009
By Richard Allen
Going into the Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway Ryan Newman was 32nd in the Sprint Cup standings, 310 points out of first place. He had not scored a single Top 10 finish in the season’s first four races.
He and others seemed to have plenty of reason to question his move from Penske Racing South to Stewart Haas Racing at the end of the 2008 season.
From that point on, however, Newman and his #39 team have caught fire. Over the next nine races beginning with Bristol he has scored four Top 5 and seven Top 10 finishes. He has moved from teetering on the brink of falling out of the Top 35 in the standings to now being solidly inside the Top 12.
Newman is currently 5th in the Sprint Cup standings, only 173 points behind leader and teammate Tony Stewart.
Also, in qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway the old Ryan Newman returned when he grabbed the pole position for that race. It was the 44th pole of his career.
Many are quick to point out that Stewart-Haas Racing is little more than a satellite operation of Hendrick Motorsports. To some degree that is true. However, that does not diminish the accomplishments of this team so far this season.
Tony Stewart won the Sprint All Star Challenge and currently leads the standings. Ryan Newman has been on a remarkable run since the race in Bristol. It’s likely that before the season started those who now say this team’s success should have been expected would not have been willing to bet these two drivers would be 1st and 5th in points going into the Pocono 500. I know I would not have made that bet.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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