Ryan Newman is hoping some past success at Michigan International Speedway helps him turn his season around. (Todd Warshaw / Getty Images)
Ryan Newman has won some big races on the Sprint Cup Series.
The Daytona 500 in 2008.
The Brickyard 400 last season.
But this year, Newman isn’t winning. And in a year when NASCAR has put a greater emphasis on winning to get into The Chase, there’s no better time to get to Victory Lane than this week’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
“We’ve been in the hunt, been in contention and now we have to make things happen, and that means everything has to go right,” said Newman, who lost his ride with Stewart-Haas after five years, winning one race in each of his final four seasons and placing 11th in The Chase last year. “To get a win for Quicken Loans would hold a lot of meaning, and I still call MIS my home track.”
Newman grew up in South Bend, Ind., and spent a lot of time at his father’s auto repair shop in Niles, Mich.
The Quicken Loans 400 is race No. 15 on the 26-event schedule, and 10 drivers are locked into The Chase. Newman is 13th in points, with five top-10 finishes.
Newman’s best chance at a victory was at Phoenix in March when he was leading with just more than 50 laps remaining when a caution came out. He finished seventh.
“I think we’ve been pretty competitive,” Newman said. “We’ve had some self-inflicted errors and also had tire problems at times, including the left rear at Charlotte with 100 to go when we were running well.”
Newman also lost a sensor on the exhaust, which led to other problems at Martinsville, resulting in a 20th-place finish. A week later, a windshield tear-off from another car got stuck under his car at Texas, costing him two laps and a possible top-10 finish.
He won 13 races in seven seasons for Roger Penske (2002-08), with a career-high sixth in points three times. He hasn’t won multiple races in a season since 2004, when he won twice.
Newman, in his first season with Richard Childress Racing, has had some success at MIS, winning in August 2003 and June 2004. He has five top-5 finishes in 25 career starts at the track.
And that, he hopes, is what can push him out front this weekend.
“I’m hoping the start of this year’s race will be like the end of last year’s race in August because at the end of the race is when the racing started actually getting good, when we could actually move around,” Newman said.