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Behind the Wheel: For Newman, changes bring glad tidings

October 25, 2012, Ryan Newman, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Behind the Wheel: For Newman, changes bring glad tidings

I'm the type of person who believes change is good.

And this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, there are some big changes for the No. 39 Quicken Loans Racing team. While I'm going back to the race track as the most recent winner, a lot of the guys who were with me in Victory Lane that day this past April are no longer with the No. 39 team.

Turn back the clock


Earlier this year, Ryan Newman drove free and clear to a G-W-C victory in a controversial finish not of his making at Martinsville.

My spotter, Jimmy Kitchens, the No. 39 truck driver, Rick Hodges, and the No. 39 pit crew are still the same, but the mechanics, the engineers and my crew chief are all different.

And this weekend, an old friend rejoins me as Matt Borland will get back on top of the pit box as my crew chief for the first time since the end of the 2006 season.

First, I want to take a second to thank Tony Gibson and all the guys who have been part of the No. 39 team's road crew for the past four years. I'm really proud of what we were able to accomplish. Our win at Martinsville in the spring was huge for me personally because I had wanted to win that grandfather clock trophy so badly for so long.

I think that our best weekend together was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in July 2011, when we started on the pole and finished first. That was an amazing day. Danica [Patrick] is getting a great group of guys who will surround her and help her with her learning curve.

That's why we are making the changes that we are. With our company having three teams full time beginning next year, we needed to make some changes to help Stewart-Haas Racing become stronger. And I think these moves are going to be beneficial for everyone.

I'm really looking forward to being reunited with Borland. We definitely had a unique relationship. Borland was with me at the very beginning of my stock-car career. He was the crew chief picked to run my team and help guide my development.

We had a lot of highs and enjoyed a lot of success. I think with both of us being engineers, we have a different way of looking at things and working through problems.

Personally and away from the track, Borland was the best man when I married Krissie in January 2004.

We've remained friends since then. And while our lives are different now than where we were back then, we're still as close as we've ever been.

I can honestly say when I was approached about Borland being my crew chief again, I was kind of taken aback. I didn't know if he would want to come back on the road. It really had been something I had thought about, but I'm excited about what these next four races and next year can bring.

I can't think of a better person to be on top of the box. While Borland hasn't come to the race track every weekend, he knows and has his hands on every part of that race car. At SHR, he works on troubleshooting and R&D [research and development] on the cars. There's nobody who knows what goes on with the race car better.

I'm looking forward to rekindling our driver/crew chief relationship and hopefully picking up where we left off.

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.