Will Phoenix win motivate the 39 team?

    Ryan Newman arrived in Phoenix 22nd in NSCS points, and a very slow start to the season. But a daring two tire call on the final caution lead to victory and a jubilant Stewart Haas Racing team.
    Newman has always carried the reputation of a sure footed and successful driver, but he had been lagging in a win drought that stretched back to the Daytona 500 in 2008. Always quite, respectful and upbeat, even during the early season struggles in 2009, he always had nothing but positive comments about the entire team.  After winning his first race with SHR, Ryan acknowledged that he was frustrated by their lack of wins, especially in light of multiple wins by teammate Tony Stewart. But his excitement Saturday night put that all behind him.
    Last year it was Mark Martin coming to Phoenix behind in the points and a rather unimpressive start in the #5 HMS car. Martin won the pole and the race. It was that win that began the climb in points and put him in a position to make a serious challenge for the Championship.  Could this win for Newman have the same reaction for the #39 SHR team?  I’d put a lot of stock in that happening, after a dismal start last year Newman managed to make the Chase, but lacking any wins, a serious challenge for the Cup suffered. 
     Newman was excited about the win and rightly so, and he shared that happiness with his crew chief Tony Gibson. “I thought we had a good car in practice, but I’ve got to thank Tornados for coming on board and helping us out with what Tony Stewart and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing has provided for us,” said Newman, who became the first driver ever to pilot the No. 39 car to victory lane in Sprint Cup competition. “I’ve got to thank the fans and U.S. Army, Haas Automation, Sprint, Chevrolet and Coca-Cola. Man, we’ve been working so hard for those guys to get into victory lane. It’s been a long time coming for me, too. I’m missing my mom and dad right now. They’re back home taking care of my grandfather. Man, I couldn’t believe it. I saw the white flag and I’m like, I ain’t got that far to go!”
    Newman was running fifth when the final caution flew and followed as all the leaders pitted for tires.  The big question going in was 2 or 4.  While leader Kyle Busch took on 4 fresh tires, Newman and Gibson debated which way to go. “I kind of threw Gibson under the bus because he wanted to put four on and I said, ‘Just give me two, I like the track position,’” Newman said. “I would rather block.”  Starting second, on the bottom with four time champion Jeff Gordon outside, the restart was crucial. Newman beat Gordon into turn one, and slid in front of the #24 car exiting turn two.  It was all over but the screaming at that point as Newman held off Gordon to take the win.  “Every restart I’d been on the inside and I couldn’t get going.” said Newman, “But I held my line and got a good shot off of turn two and it was all we needed. Track position was real important. I think the two tires were a good call because the track cooled off and there was a little more grip with two tires. Two tires earlier in the day weren’t good enough. Gibson and everybody did a great job. We’ve come so far as a team. To get to this point, obviously, is a great thing.” In a post race interview Gordon said that he spun his tires on the restart and once Newman got ahead of him, all he could do was follow him.
    For Gibson, the win was equally special as many of the No. 39 crew members have been with him for a number of years and followed him to SHR in 2009.  “It’s pretty big,” Gibson said. “A lot of those guys were in tears in victory lane, because most of us have been together for nine years. We won with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., and it had been a long stretch since we’d won a race. We had come close, but we didn’t make it happen. So it was pretty exciting for those guys. And I’m more happy and more proud for those guys than for myself because I feel like those guys have followed me wherever I’ve gone. I feel like I owe it to them to see those guys hopping up and jumping up and down. It just brings back memories. It’s awesome.”
    The win moved Ryan Newman up six places in the drivers points to 18th and are looking ahead to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend.  Ryan had one win, three top 5’s and two poles at TMS, but he only has a average finish of 22nd there.  Maybe that 22nd will motivate the team and their luck to pull off another win, like the 22nd in points did.