By: Ashley McCubbin
When the 2021 campaign was originally hyped by NASCAR on FOX about being the “best season ever,” a lot of people did not put much thought into the theory. Now seeing five different winners in five races, there may have been some validation to the claims.
The trend of seeing a new face in victory lane each week is something Ryan Newman hopes to see continue, simply because he has not done so himself yet.
“I definitely want to be one of those guys up until the point that we win and I don’t want anybody else to win, but that’s not my decision,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “That’s just what sounds good to me and I think, from what I’ve seen, the guys that have won have deserved to win. Nobody has had one land in their lap. I don’t think that it was expected based off of the season we had last year with if you want to call it the Kevin Harvick-Denny Hamlin Show of a big number of race winners, but that was last year and this is this year, and who knows what next year is gonna be like. Just keep watching.”
So far this year, Newman has only scored a single top-10 – seventh at Homestead-Miami Speedway, showcasing the team’s gains on the 550-horsepower package.
“I think our 750 package needs a lot of work, based off of what I experienced in Phoenix and then a little bit of a combination of the road courses,” he added. “So what I was fighting with my race car in Phoenix is very similar to what I was fighting with it at the road course in Daytona, as well as some races last year. I think that is one of the things, especially based off of our schedule with the number of road courses and the number of 750 low downforce package races that we have that we need to put a lot of emphasis on that.”
Getting back to victory lane is critical, as Newman says he would like to see some good performances before he begins contract discussions with Roush Fenway Racing. As of right now, the pair have yet to began discussing 2022 and beyond.
“I really don’t want there to be any conversations yet until we get some performance on the racetrack. Otherwise, we’re just having conversation,” he commented. “The reality is I want to perform, they want to perform. The better performance we have together, the more it makes sense to carry on and I would say that no matter what team or organization in reference to continuing a responsibility of your job, I guess you could call it.”
When he is not working on getting to Cup Series victory lane, Newman plans to be behind the wheel of a modified, including the season opener for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Martinsville Speedway next month.
““If you look at the big picture of it, the modified is just an amazing race car,” he commented. “If you as an engineer had to draw up a car to design to make it go fast, turn left and accelerate, you’d draw a Whelan modified, so that’s the one part of it. So whenever I can fit it into my schedule and it makes sense geographically and time-wise, obviously, I do it.
“This year, I plan on doing the Martinsville race, which obviously I’ve got a ton of laps at Martinsville, it’s close to home and it’s Cup weekend, and then plan on doing the Richmond race when we can and the Loudon race that weekend, so just trying to fit things in when it makes sense. Gary Putnam and Bono Manion have put together a great modified as they usually do and it’s just fun racing against these guys. They do it for a living. We’re all hobby racing, but they do it for a living. They’re the best and it’s fun to come out and race against them.”
Newman joined Preece at the paperclip this past week to partake in a series test ahead of the event, full of smiles after laying down a quicker time than we see with the Cup cars.
“Every aspect of a Whelen modified makes it go faster and the end result is it doesn’t necessarily go faster at the end of the straightaway, it goes faster in lap time and that’s what matters,” he explained. “But it’s a lower center of gravity, offset to the left, bigger, fatter, wider tires that have more gumminess to them, I guess you could say, and that makes it a whole lot of fun to hustle the car around, and the tires fall off a little bit more, at least I think that they will because of they’re gumminess and we won’t see that until we get a whole bunch of cars out on the racetrack in race conditions.”