News & Media


Newman: Richmond offers best of all worlds

April 26, 2012, Ryan Newman, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Newman ready to win one for the soldiers at Richmond, one of his favorites

I'm sure people think I'm like a broken record sometimes because I always say I'm looking forward to the upcoming race at whatever race track it happens to be. But, you see, I'm telling the truth and I don't know how to say it any better.

I do look forward to each race track we have on the schedule. Racing is what I do. And I feel extremely grateful to do what I love as my job.

"For a lot of us, racing at Richmond takes us back to how we got our starts in racing. It's under the lights. It's a Saturday night race. It really doesn't get any better than that."

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I actually laugh when people call it a job because being behind the wheel of my No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet is the farthest thing from a job, in my opinion. It's me living my dream.

And I get to live that dream thanks to the men and women -- the soldiers -- who I represent while driving the U.S. Army Chevrolet. Each time I see a soldier, I thank him or her for what he or she does because, without the soldiers, we wouldn't be able to do what we do today.

This week we have our sights on winning at Richmond and hopefully going 2-for-2 in the state of Virginia.

Now I, for one, don't think there's a better race on the circuit than the Richmond races each year. For all the fans who love rooting for the gouging and door-handle-to-door-handle racing under the lights, then this Saturday night's race is probably one you are going to love.

I'm not lying when I say it is probably the best short track we have on the NASCAR circuit. We can go two- and three-wide at Richmond and there is always some beating and banging on the race track.

For a lot of us, racing at Richmond takes us back to how we got our starts in racing. It's under the lights. It's a Saturday night race. It really doesn't get any better than that.

The key to racing at Richmond is that you have to be considerate of the entries to the corners. Turn 1 is sweeping and you have to be sensitive to getting loose there. Turn 3 is pretty much a 90-degree corner, and turn four opens up, so you will see a lot of passing there. Both ends are different, so it really is a driver's race track. It's a place where it is rewarding to be patient and smooth, but you also have to be aggressive at times, too.

After two weeks with not-so-great finishes at the mile-and-a-half tracks, I'm really looking forward to getting back to some short-track racing.

Since I came to Stewart-Haas in 2009, our No. 39 team has really excelled at the short tracks on the circuit. We've won poles and races -- including Martinsville just a few weeks ago -- and we seem to be a constant in the top-10.

For whatever reason, the combination we have found -- [crew chief Tony] Gibson's setups and my driving style -- just really seems to fit when it comes to the short tracks. So I guess you could say this is a race we circle on the calendar each season.

Last spring, we didn't get the finish we deserved at Richmond. We had a little issue with Juan Montoya on the race track and it ruined our day. We finished 20th with a car I still am confident was capable of winning the race.

But that was last year. The goal this year is to do the same thing we did at Martinsville -- be patient and stay focused regardless of what hurdles we may face. Just like our soldiers, we have a mission to complete, and that's to win the race.

At Martinsville, I put us in a bad position early on by speeding on pit road. But my crew chief and my team helped me stay focused. We dug our heels in and we did not give up. We fought our way back onto the lead lap and then we put ourselves in position to win the race in the event the opportunity presented itself.

We got that opportunity and we took advantage of it.

This weekend, our goal remains the same -- to put ourselves in position to win the race. We sure would like to get a win in the soldiers' car.

Behind the Wheel with Ryan Newman runs twice a month on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanNewman39 and online at www.ryannewman.org and www.ryannewmanfoundation.org. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.