Race Weekend Central

2014 NASCAR Driver Review: Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman

2014 Ride: No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2014 Crew Chief: Lucas Lambert
2014 Points Finish: Second
2014 Statistics: 36 starts, zero wins, five top fives, 16 top 10s, zero poles, 41 laps led, one DNF, 13.3 average start, 12.7 average finish
2014 Best Finish: Second, once (Homestead)

High Point: Newman used his version of the old adage “to win some, you have to lose some” to put a positive spin on a runner-up finish in the championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A season-best finish was only enough for second in the final standings, as Kevin Harvick went on to win the race and claim the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, but it also propelled Newman closer than ever before to a championship trophy of his own.

Low Point: Newman was involved in one of season’s most intense wrecks at Watkins Glen International. Contact with Greg Biffle sent Newman head-on into a section of retaining wall unequipped with a SAFER barrier and back into the No. 95 Ford driven by Michael McDowell. With the No. 31 Chevrolet left dismembered and smoldering in the middle of the track, Newman was forced to settle for 41st. During the ensuing red flag, Newman suggested that the track bring its safety levels up to NASCAR’s standards for ovals.

Summary: In a season that forced a heavy emphasis on winning because of NASCAR’s altered playoff format, Newman was hardly one of the most talked-about drivers. While others rode the 2014 schedule like a rollercoaster, Newman used a career-best average finish to stay relevant without collecting a win or leading a ton of laps, and perfected his craft during the Chase, recording six top 10s in that span.

2015 Outook: The pillars that created a winning (without winning) combination of Newman in his debut season with RCR will remain intact. Newman is under contract through 2016, while crew chief Luke Lambert is supposedly on board for another year. Signs also point to the combination of Caterpillar (confirmed through 2015), Quicken Loans, WIX Filters and Kwikset returning to garnish the No. 31 Chevrolet. The pieces are in place for Newman to build on his late-season hot streak.

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