News Column

Ryan Newman: Winning NASCAR race at MIS on Father's Day would be 'perfect'

June 12, 2014

By Mike Brudenell, Detroit Free Press



June 12--This Sunday wouldn't be a bad day for NASCAR's Rocket Man to catch flight and win at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

Consider that Ryan Newman will be running in the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup race at MIS in the No. 31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans Chevrolet.

And that Newman is a proud family man and driving to victory in the Irish Hills, where he loves to fish and hunt, would be a great Father's Day gift.

"It would just be perfect," said Newman, who has two young children, Brooklyn and Ashlyn. "I think my wife, Krissie, the girls and my sponsor would be pretty happy if I could win this race."

When Newman, nicknamed Rocket Man for his ability to scorch the track and earn pole positions throughout his career, received sponsorship from Detroit-based Quicken Loans a couple seasons ago, he took time to visit the online mortgage retail lender's head office downtown.

He liked what he saw -- something that reminded him of racing.

"I spent several days at Quicken Loans," recalled Newman, 36, the South Bend, Ind., native who graduated from Purdue in 2001 with an engineering degree. "These folks weren't simply workers; they were more like team members. They enjoyed the job, put in the effort and got the results. I have a great relationship with them."

Newman, who is running for Richard Childress Racing this year after moving from Stewart-Haas Racing, is looking to translate the hard work and dedication from his crew into victory Sunday.

He is a two-time MIS winner in Cup, driving to victory in 2003 and 2004 at the speedway for Roger Penske. He is a pole hog, particularly in is earlier Cup years, snatching 51 in 454 series starts.

Newman finished seventh last weekend at Pocono to race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and is 11th in Cup points heading to Michigan.

He enjoys the big track in the Irish Hills but would prefer it was not resurfaced two seasons ago, however.

"I liked it better the way it was," said Newman, who has 17 career Cup wins. "It was older, grayer and you could slide the car around. But they've done a nice job on the re-grade, and I think I have a shot at making it three victories at Michigan on Sunday."

Newman is OK with his "Rocket Man" nickname, but he doesn't try to capitalize on it, he said.

"I've never called myself that and I never sign autographs with it," Newman said. "I guess it's better than some."

Newman is still searching for a first Cup championship although he has a stellar record in the series, winning the 2008 Daytona 500 and the 2013 Brickyard 400.

"We have 450 employees working their tails off at RCR, and I want to win a championship for them and me. That's my ultimate goal."

Newman is fitting in well with teammates Austin Dillon and Paul Menard at Childress, he said.

"I'm the oldest driver on the team," Newman said. "It's been good sharing information with them."

Although Newman is considered a decent guy by the NASCAR garage and calls himself a family man, he is nevertheless a hard-core racer, a former USAC Silver Crown champion who will run a modified on a dirt track these days when he has the chance.

Asked if Earnhardt's Pocono win was good for racing, Newman replied, maybe tongue in cheek, to the question: "If it's not me, I don't much care who wins."

Contact Mike Brudenell: mbrudenell@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikebrudenell.

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(c)2014 the Detroit Free Press

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Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)


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