Why I Love NASCAR: Ryan Newman

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

I never dreamt I would be writing about Ryan Newman when this column began at the beginning of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It’s not that I didn’t believe Ryan Newman could be a Chase driver vying for the Cup, it’s just that, when I began the column, the reasons were all quite personal of why I love NASCAR and Ryan Newman, frankly, was not foremost on the list. Now that I’ve been chronicling the reasons I love all of the 2011 Chase drivers it was inevitable I would write about Ryan Newman. Much to my delight, it wasn’t hard to formulate a list of reasons.

To be perfectly vain and superficial and, I’m embarrassed to state, a “stereotypical female NASCAR fan”, a term I despise and is the antithesis of our site Skirts and Scuffs, I liked Ryan Newman initially and solely because his first name is that of my husband’s. I’m not wholly ashamed of this, though, as I don’t feel I’m so far different from a lot of people who draw instant connections. Fortunately this is far from the only reason I like Ryan Newman.

When Ryan Newman entered my radar my husband described him as an “incredibly smart engineer” who was educated. Being a learned person myself I liked this description and enjoyed having this element in NASCAR from the driver’s perspective. Educated at Purdue with a B.S. in vehicle structure engineering and the only active driver with a college degree, Ryan Newman is articulate and reserved. He was a breath of fresh air when he entered Cup in  2002 and another character that took NASCAR from being a regional sport to a national one.

The slew of Gillette Young Guns commercials featuring Ryan Newman used to slay me! His character was always referred to at the end of the ad in incensed rage, “NEWMAN!” I giggled every time those aired and, truly, miss them! I found Ryan Newman’s sense of humor in those commercials and loved it!

I also happen to adore Ryan Newman’s nickname, Rocket Man. The nerd in me loves the alliteration and the race fan in me is impressed by the caliber of the nickname. Newman earned this name from the record number of poles he captured, eleven, in the 2003 season. It always impressed me that Ryan Newman broke Davey Allison’s record for poles in one season with six in 2002. The eleven in one season was truly remarkable and made him more than worthy of the nickname that was bestowed.

When Tony Stewart broke away from Joe Gibbs racing to become a team owner/driver of Stewart-Haas Racing I was intrigued when he chose Ryan Newman to be his teammate.  I wasn’t overly impressed with Ryan Newman’s record and wondered why Stewart thought he could get more out of Newman than Roger Penske did. Although Newman showed brilliance in 2003 with eight incredible wins and the aforementioned eleven poles, he finished a lackluster sixth in points due to seven DNFs.

Watching Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman enter the Chase this season has been exhilarating. Although at this juncture Newman’s chances for winning the Cup are slim to none, it’s like the old adage, “It was just nice to make it this far”.  But, like Tony Stewart has incredible faith in Ryan Newman’s talent, I do as well. He should crack the Top-5 for season-ending points in a season in the near future. In the meantime, I’m enjoying watching Ryan Newman’s career continue to unfold and relaying that he is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.
Why I Love NASCAR: Ryan Newman Why I Love NASCAR: Ryan Newman Reviewed by Chief 187 on Monday, October 24, 2011 Rating: 5