There’s perhaps no place where Ryan Newman feels more at home than behind the wheel of his racecar.
Since the age of 4, Newman has been putting on a helmet and going in circles. And while the types of racecars have changed and the racetracks have gotten bigger through the years, there’s no doubt the South Bend, Ind., native is most comfortable strapped into the driver’s seat.
As Newman embarks on his 12th full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and his fifth with Stewart-Haas Racing, he has another reason to feel right at home as the driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS.
This season, the crew chief Newman started his stock car racing career with in 2000 – Matt Borland – will once again be calling the shots from atop his pit box.
The pairing of engineering majors – Newman a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Borland a graduate of the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Mich. – were reunited for the final four races of the 2012 season, and together they quickly produced positive results.
In fact, Newman and Borland seemingly picked up right where they left off in 2006. In their five full Sprint Cup seasons together from 2002 to 2006, the Newman-Borland combination produced 12 victories, 37 poles, 52 top-five finishes and 83 top-10s. It also finished in the top-10 in the point standings in each of its first four seasons of full-time competition.
In the final four races of 2012, the duo earned four top-12 finishes, including two top-fives.
With the uncertainty that surrounds NASCAR’s new sixth-generation (Gen-6) Sprint Cup car as it takes the track for the first time in 2013, feeling “at home” behind the wheel will be more important than ever for Newman and his fellow competitors. It all begins with the first race of the season on the high banks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway – the 55th running of the Daytona 500.
Luckily, Newman has Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender, adorning his No. 39 Chevy. He also knows what it takes to get to the sport’s most famous victory lane – no matter the type or generation of racecar – as Newman has celebrated at Daytona on three different occasions in three different series.
Before joining the Sprint Cup ranks full-time, Newman earned his first win at Daytona in the ARCA Series in 2001. It was his first-ever outing at the high-banked superspeedway, and Newman started 11th, led the final 12 laps of the 80-lap race and won by more than two-tenths of a second.
Three years later, in 2004, Newman scored his only IROC victory at Daytona.
And five years ago, in 2008, Newman celebrated the greatest moment of his racing career at the historic racetrack. On that February evening, Newman achieved a lifelong dream when he stole the lead on the backstretch on the final lap of the sport’s biggest race. He never looked back, winning the 50th Daytona 500.
As the Sprint Cup Series rolls into Daytona to kick off the 2013 season, Newman hopes the combination of he and Borland can continue to improve upon their successes from the end of last season. And perhaps their engineering backgrounds can aid them in quickly learning the intricacies of the new Gen-6 racecar, which will, in turn, help them to conquer the competition.
For while the No. 39 Quicken Loans team wants to score as many top-10s and top-fives as possible, the ultimate goal is to bring home the 2013 Sprint Cup championship. That quest begins in earnest next weekend with the first step being a victory in the Daytona 500.