Saturday, September 12, 2015

Will continued consistency win Ryan Newman a Chase berth?

Ryan Newman, the driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, may clinch a spot in the Chase tonight at Richmond
Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
It is no secret that Ryan Newman is not only a skilled driver, but also a smart one too. Matt Kenneth may be the king of calm and collected and Kyle Busch may be the wild one, but Ryan Newman is the quintessential definition of consistency. Last season, that steadfastness nearly won him the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship despite not winning a single race.

As we go into the last regular season race, his performance is remarkably similar to last year’s. Heading into Richmond in 2014, he was winless and sat ninth in the standings with 747 points. He was one point behind Kevin Harvick, where he finished the season at Homestead, narrowly missing the win and championship. He ended up with five top fives, 16 top 10s and one DNF with a 12.7 average finish.

Newman goes into tonight’s Federated Auto Parts 400 with comparable stats. He's winless and 11th place in the standings with 714 points, 12 points behind Jamie McMurray. He has earned four top fives, 12 top 10s and one DNF with a 13.6 average finish.

Will Ryan Newman get into the Chase and make it into the final four again? One clinch scenario has him getting in by finishing 31st or better tonight. That shouldn’t be a problem as Newman has an 11.2 average finish here and is fourth best among active drivers at Richmond. In his last eight starts here, he's finished no worse than 15th.  

What does Newman think about his chances to make the Chase?

“There is no guarantee for us to be in the Chase at this point, but it’s the best case scenario I’ve had in probably the last four or five years. We’ve been in a situation in the past few weeks that we can’t take a little bit of extra risk like short pitting or getting one less lug nut and things like that. That kind of changes a little bit for us, which should hopefully ‘up’ our performance and make for a better Richmond race for our team,” he said.

Explaining his thoughts on the Chase, Newman’s thoughts continuously came back to consistency.

“We all know that we went though a pretty big hiccup this season (the 50 championship driver and owner points penalty at Auto Club Speedway) and we have been able to rebound from that. In the end we have been a very consistent team. We haven’t led a lot of laps, which is something we have to work on for the Chase. We have to put ourselves in a better position to be able to capitalize and turn a top 5 effort into a win. We have been in the top five more times this season, but we just need to be a bit more on top of things when it comes to leading laps, getting a pole and gaining track position,” he said.

Like any good sports playoff, the Chase -- with its multiple segments -- has potential for exciting cliffhangers. Whether Ryan Newman will be in the mix is another undetermined plot point that may be answered tonight. Stay tuned.

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