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Behind the Wheel: Without Chase, Newman looks for a Monster

September 27, 2012, Ryan Newman, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Behind the Wheel: Without Chase, Newman looks for a Monster

The weather has been so nice here in North Carolina recently. I love fall and everything that goes along with it -- the cooler weather, the changing colors of the scenery, the fact that it's hunting season. Fall is an awesome time of year.

The cooler weather is an especially big bonus. Anyone that knows me knows that I love to build wood fires in our house, so I'm hoping it cools down a whole lot more so I can hear those logs cracking on the fireplace.

"I won the first ever "Monster Trophy" that the track gave out. It's a pretty cool trophy. ... I've always liked the trophy because it is so unique from anything else I have. "

--RYAN NEWMAN

And I've definitely been taking advantage of the fact that it's hunting season. I went elk hunting last week, and I will be going hunting next week in Georgia.

So I guess you could say that I'm racing in between my hunting trips.

We've had a good couple of weeks at the race track, too. I'm really proud of what the No. 39 guys have done. It was disappointing not to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, but we haven't hung our heads low. No -- we have gone out there each week and we have shown just how good of a team that we are.

We finished fifth in Chicagoland and 10th at New Hampshire. We have a lot of momentum on our side as we head to Dover this weekend.

When we didn't make the Chase, we decided that we wanted to finish the season 13th in points, and we are definitely fighting to get that spot. I'm confident we can do it. We just have to keep knocking out these top-fives and top-10s and, hopefully, we'll get another win before it's all said and done.

I have three wins at Dover, and it would be nice to get back into Victory Lane there. For some reason, it hasn't been the best track for our SHR cars the past few outings there. But it's still one of my favorite tracks we go to.

The track is a high-banked, fast track, which I always say are my favorites. It's fast, it's demanding and it's a challenge. If you don't like a challenge, then Dover is not the place for you.

Funny story about Dover: In 2004, I won the first ever "Monster Trophy" that the track gave out. It's a pretty cool trophy. It's pretty big, and I guess it's supposed to be "scary" looking, although I don't really see it that way. It's a miniature version of the statue that's in front of the race track.

It's a monster made of what looks like broken-concrete with red beady eyes and it has a toy race car in its hand.

I've always liked the trophy because it is so unique from anything else I have. Once I got the trophy home, I put it on a shelf in my shop behind my house with the other trophies I have earned during my racing career. And I really didn't think too much of it after that.

In fact, I really didn't think about it again until one afternoon when I walked into the shop to work on some of my cars. My dog Mopar had come in with me. I walked through the shop, but Mopar stopped and began growling and barking just as loud and as hard as he could.

I didn't know if an animal had gotten into the shop or what. Then I finally realized what had Mopar so upset -- he was barking at the Monster and its glaring red eyes.

It still cracks me up just thinking about it today. I have to admit, it sure would be nice to see how Mopar would react if there were two Monster trophies staring at him after next weekend.

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 Newman.