Is Ryan Newman RCR’s Only Hope for a Chase Berth?

When the 2014 season rolled around and it became clear that Ryan Newman would be a Richard Childress Racing (RCR) driver, it didn’t seem that Newman was making an upgrade, but rather a lateral move.

Newman didn’t reach amazing heights while a Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver for Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, but he did enjoy a level of consistency that he hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. Even when SHR expanded to three teams in 2013, Newman’s performance didn’t fall off like Stewart’s or teammate Danica Patrick.

Still, moving to RCR didn’t look to bear too many fruits for the Indiana native. Childress’s grandson Austin Dillon would also be joining the RCR Sprint Cup organization and considering he would be vying for Rookie of the Year, it was speculated that he would be the star player of the team instead of veterans Newman and Paul Menard.

Yet going into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, it is Newman who sits eighth in the standings while Dillon sits 14th in points and Menard sits 18th.

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Despite the fact that Menard has one more top-10 and a third-place finish at Las Vegas this season, Newman’s consistency has shown despite having a mere four top-10s this season. Considering that Dillon’s mediocre showing in the No. 3 this season could be attributed to rookie trials and Menard could be considered a hit-or-miss driver, Newman stands to be Childress’s best bet for a Chase berth now that star driver Kevin Harvick is gone.

Still, it looks bleak when you take note that without Harvick leading the Childress charge, RCR looks to be following Roush-Fenway’s suit in that both teams have gone from being formidable powerhouses to meek top-10 teams.

With the exception of Harvick’s venture in the No. 29 in the last few years, none of the other RCR teams have made much of a splash, including the No. 31 that is now piloted by Newman. On top of that, Newman has never been a championship threat ever in his career. Therefore, the odds are stacked against him.

Still, Newman is a capable driver with a championship-winning organization. He is the most talented of the RCR bunch and he has yet to really hit his stride in the 2014 Sprint Cup season. It remains to be seen whether or not Newman can make the most of his opportunity with Childress, but if any of the RCR drivers can make the chase it’s him.

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