News & Media


Newman overcomes flu to stay in contention

August 20, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

Ryan Newman maintained his hold on the final wild-card spot for the Chase after an eighth-place finish on Sunday (Autostock)

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Eighth-place finish helps No. 39 car remain in hunt for Chase

When crew chief Tony Gibson visited Ryan Newman's motorhome on Saturday night, the crew chief found his driver wrapped up in blankets and suffering from chills. Sunday morning, Newman received intravenous fluids and had David Reutimann available on standby.

By Sunday afternoon, though, Newman had fought through his flu-like symptoms enough to post yet another top-10 finish, this time an eighth-place result at Michigan International Speedway that allowed the Stewart-Haas Racing driver to retain his tenuous hold on the second and final wild-card entry into the Chase.

"He wasn't feeling well, but he saddled up and got after it. Our car was pretty good at times, loose at times, tight at times, depending on what kind of traffic he ran in. It's a tremendous effort by him and the whole team to fight back."

--TONY GIBSON

"I'm proud of the guys," Newman said. "Everything was good. We've just got to get great."

Kasey Kahne, who finished third Sunday, holds the top wild-card spot by virtue of both his 11th-place standing in the points and his two victories on the season. Newman, whose lone victory this year came at Martinsville in April, left Michigan with an 11-point edge over his closest pursuer, Kyle Busch, who placed 13th Sunday -- but has one of his best tracks, half-mile Bristol, coming up next weekend. Still, simply maintaining proved noteworthy for a driver who was suffering inside the car.

"We were nervous today," Gibson said. "He wasn't feeling well, but he saddled up and got after it. Our car was pretty good at times, loose at times, tight at times, depending on what kind of traffic he ran in. Just proud of Ryan and all the guys. We had really good stops, and Ryan saddled up. He went over and got him some IV fluids this morning. It's a tremendous effort by him and the whole team to fight back."

Gibson said Newman's wife and children were sick as well, and that team competition director Greg Zipadelli secured the services of Reutimann -- who finished one lap down in the No. 10 car of Tommy Baldwin Racing, which has an alliance with Stewart-Haas -- as an emergency standby.

"You don't know," Gibson said. "You get in the car, it gets hot, he gets sick, you never know. We had to be ready."

Newman persevered enough to record his fifth top-10 finish in the last six races, continuing an under-the-radar run that's kept him in the wild-card mix. The only blip during that stretch, which began at Daytona, is last week's 11th-place result on the road course at Watkins Glen.

It's been solid," Gibson said. "We're just doing our deal. We're taking it one race at a time. We missed a top-10 last week by one spot, but we had a car we felt could run there. We know it could end at any time, so we're trying to focus on each race, take the best car we can to each race, and see what happens after Richmond."

That would be the Sept. 8 race in the Virginia capital that will determine the 12-driver Chase field. For the time being, at least, that last spot belongs to Newman, who in addition to his advantage over Busch leads four other drivers with one victory. Jeff Gordon fell 30 points back after his engine failure at Michigan, while Marcos Ambrose is 41 behind and Joey Logano now trails Newman by 80 points after finishing a number of laps down Sunday.

"We're fighting like crazy, man," Gibson said. "We're solid every week. For the past six weeks we've been a solid top-10 car, and that's what we've got to do. We feel like we've got to win a race to make sure, but on the other side of that, we can't risk not running in the top 10. You can gamble and really take us out of the hunt, because it could come down to a points deal. We've got to be kind of guarded on both sides. We're going for wins, but if we can't win, we've got to try to finish ahead of [Busch] and ahead of [Gordon]."

In the meantime, Newman has a week to recover. "He was wore out," Gibson said of his driver's condition after the race. "He was used up. But he can go home now and rest all week and be ready for Bristol."