INDIANAPOLIS — A year ago, Ryan Newman came to Indianapolis as a local favorite whose career was in limbo.
He left as a champion of another one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.
Newman started the 2013 Brickyard 400 from the pole, and finished the race in Victory Lane. It was a significant boost for the South Bend native, who now has won both at Daytona and Indianapolis in his career.
Newman knew he was losing his ride with Tony Stewart’s team at the end of the year, but had a perfect weekend.
“I didn’t expect to win the race,” Newman said. “I don’t know that you can expect to win anything. You have to kind of put yourself in position. But it was definitely a sweet and bittersweet victory for us last year.”
He comes to Indy this weekend with a new ride – driving the No. 31 car for Richard Childress Racing, a team that has won championships in the past.
While Newman hasn’t added to his total of 17 Sprint Cup race wins since last year’s Brickyard, he has been consistently competitive with his new team.
He is currently placed seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, 97 points back of leader Jeff Gordon. He’s done it with consistency, with two top five finishes and seven top 10s in the in 19 starts so far this season, including a third-place finish at Kentucky Speedway and a fifth-place finish in the most recent event, two weeks ago at New Hampshire.
“We’ve got some better finishes under our belt the last three or four races,” Newman said. “Two top-fives was something we needed to get. We’ve got to put ourselves in contention to win, which means being in the top five, not the top 10.
“We’ve been competitive everywhere. We just haven’t been a winning racecar everywhere. Come Chase time, we’re going to have to be.”