Last year’s race at Martinsville marked a memorable finish with Ryan Newman picking up the victory.
“We never give up in any situation,” he said of that race. “That was just one good example. But we had known that in the past we had had a good car there, so we kind of went with the same setup and same package, and the car was good.”
For Newman and team, it marked the end of a hard-fought day after having to come back from being a lap down earlier in the race due to a pit road speeding penalty.
“I didn’t think I could get busted for speeding on pit road because of the way the timing lines were, and I did, so that was my mistake,” he commented. “But to fight back the way we did, we made the car better throughout the race, and it was just great teamwork.”
On the final pit stop, Newman took two tires while Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson didn’t take any tires.
“With a couple laps to go, basically they put themselves in position to be up front but were vulnerable because they didn’t have tires,” Newman tells the finish of he race. “I got a run off Clint, Clint went to block me, basically gave him the shot to get him up inside of Jeff, and they went three wide. I think Clint hit the curb just a little bit, Jimmie pinched him down, Dale kind of spun and got shuffled up, and I snuck around the inside of them and basically just put ourselves in a position with our Outback Chevrolet to take advantage of that situation and led the last couple laps under green and got that first grandfather clock.
“It was an awesome finish for me, a tough one for some other guys. But it was just great short track racing.”
It hasn’t all been glory for Newman at the tight paperclip as he has only one win and seven top fives in 22 starts, showing a mixed bag of results over the years.
“The biggest and toughest part is just managing your brakes and somewhat managing your race car, keeping your fenders clean and things like that,” he said. “We’ve all grown up racing short tracks, half mile or less, and I don’t think that that’s so much the challenge as it is just managing your brakes, your car and putting yourself in position for the end of the race.”
Newman remembers his first couple of races at Martinsville where he struggled with brakes, finishing 41st, 15th and 38th in his first three starts.
“We ran second to Jimmie once and kind of gave me the confidence to know that we were — and we were actually a little bit better than him at the end, and I chose not to bang him out of the way,” Newman said. “But that was something that gave me confidence to be able to know, and as the generation of cars got better, the cooling got better, the fans got better and brakes became less of an issue.”