Ryan Newman and the No. 6 team punched their ticket into the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, finishing eighth and locking the team into the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“I guess if you look at our roster there are more new people on our team together for the first time than all the other teams put together,” Newman said following the race. “I am proud that we were able to take that and use our collective experience of our own knowledge from places and things we have done and turn that into a playoff position. Now we just have to do something with it.”
Newman officially kicks off his playoff hunt next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the first of three races in the opening round, which will conclude the last weekend in September with the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sunday afternoon was an eventful one all around as Newman bordered the line throughout the 400-mile race. The South Bend, Indiana, native back in his home state rolled off the grid 22nd after qualifying earlier Sunday morning. Track position turned out to be key throughout the race as Newman worked his way to the top-15 by lap 15.
With 10 to go in the opening 50-lap stage, the caution flag flew setting up a key decision on pit road. Crew chief Scott Graves made the call to keep Newman on track, which put him second on the restart with four to go. The yellow came back out just two laps later for a multi-car incident, which led to the stage ending under yellow, allowing Newman to pick up valuable stage points.
After restarting 17th for the second 50-lap segment, Newman reported he was just a touch free early on. The race from there went caution-free for the next 36 laps as green-flag stops began to cycle. Again, a strategy call by Graves paid off as he ran Newman long, before the No. 18 brought out the yellow at lap 88, which set up a stop under caution for the team from the fourth spot.
Newman restarted 13th with five laps remaining in the second stage, before the yellow came out again for debris. The caution remained out through the remainder of the stage, which led to a 12th-place result in stage two.
The 2013 Brickyard 400 Champion lined back up 11th for the final stage, setting up a 56-lap race to the finish. By lap 125, Newman ran 13th, before the caution came out at lap 128. He would pit one final time at lap 129 from the 10th spot, setting him up eighth on the restart with 26 to go.
Two more yellow flags were displayed in the closing laps, but Newman held strong, bringing his Acorns Ford home eighth, securing his spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Race coverage from Las Vegas begins next Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.