Ryan Newman: "This is a selfish sport, right?"

It was one year ago Ryan Newman snapped a pair of long winless streaks in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with a surprise victory at Phoenix.

Ryan Newman: "This is a selfish sport, right?"
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Grainger
Race winner Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Grainger
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Fusion and Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Caterpillar and William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro AXALTA
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Race winner Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in Victory lane
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet wins
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro

The victory ended Newman’s personal 127-race winless streak in the series, but perhaps even more importantly, it also ended a 112-race dry spell for the Richard Childress Racing organization.

The win, coupled by a victory months later at Charlotte by teammate Austin Dillon, sent both drivers into the 2017 NASCAR playoffs.

Sharing in the garage

Newman is already running better than he was at this point last year, but so is Dillon – he won the season-opening Daytona 500.

“We obviously had a good Daytona with Austin winning,” Newman said this weekend at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. “From an alliance standpoint, teammate standpoint, it’s great to have that success, but this is a selfish sport, right? 

“You want it to be your own. You want it to be your own victory. Sharing is not exactly a common word amongst the garage or at least meaning it.”

Even though 2017 was RCR’s best season in years, the aftermath was tempered by restructuring which saw RCR drop from three to two fulltime Cup teams, numerous layoffs and Richard Petty Motorsports moving its headquarters to the RCR campus in Welcome, N.C.

“Winning a race and pumping up the people that are there and letting them feel that true first race of the season, biggest race of the year, Daytona 500 victory was really special,” Newman said.

There have been other changes as well, including Chevrolet’s move to a new model Camaro, which has provided yet another learning curve. NASCAR’s inspection system has also altered the playing field.

Adapting to the changes

So far, RCR seems to have weathered the change better than some of its Chevrolet brethren, namely powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.

“So many things changed when we went to the Camaro versus the SS. For instance, the splitter shape changed and a few of the small things even like the way the body scans are done and (NASCAR’s) new optical scanning system,” Newman said.

“There are no apples-to-apples unless you took two cars, which would have been a waste of time for us, to a track and tried to figure out the differences in a set-up between an SS and a Camaro. That would have been the only way to do it.

“I think that all the work that went into the Camaro ZL1 was huge from an ownership standpoint of the car owners working together – which is not always common – as well as the Chevrolet people did to listen and create the car and the balance that has been fairly good for us out of the box.”

Newman enters Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 14th in the series standings with finishes of eighth, 22nd and 11th in the first three races. He finished no better than 17th in the first three races a year ago.

Repeating his 2017 performance

Newman said he does not enter the race expecting to win but believes his No. 31 team can certainly find its way into contention again.

“To break the winless streak was super important for myself, but I think even (more) for RCR, so that was special to get Luke (Lambert, crew chief) his first Cup win, my engineers their first Cup win together as a team was special,” he said.

“In addition to that, we had a good car here in the fall race last year. Had some less than average pit stops that kind of held us back, but in the end still had a good car that was capable of winning there as well.

“I really looked forward to being able to come back this year and don’t expect to win, but feel like we have a good car.” 

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