TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 27, 2010) — If a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver is looking to snap a streak of bad luck, Talladega Superspeedway would most likely not be the venue of choice.
But according to U.S. Army driver Ryan Newman, the Talladega odds are overdue to play in his favor during Sunday’s Amp Energy 500 Cup race.
“We haven’t finished a restrictor-plate race this season, so odds are that we are going to finish one,” said Newman about his three performances in 2010 at NASCAR’s two superspeedway tracks –Daytona and Talladega.
Actually, Newman has not been running at the finish in the last four superspeedway races, dating back to last fall’s event at Talladega. In each of the four races — two at Daytona and two at Talladega — he was involved in multicar accidents.
Not only is Newman looking to reverse his superspeedway misfortunes, he is also looking to overturn a current two-race streak of bad luck that has resulted in finishes of 36th and 30th in Charlotte, N.C. and Martinsville, Va. respectively.
In the seven races prior to the Oct. 16th race at Charlotte, Newman had an average finish of 7.8 and scored six top 10s. His only finish outside the top-10 during the seven-race span was 11th in Richmond, Va.
“We definitely need to get back on the cycle before Charlotte,” said Newman. “It’s a shame that we didn’t capitalize on the great cars we had at the last two races. But I spun out and hit the wall early in the Charlotte race and then we had a gear problem after running really strong in Martinsville. This is a time when we look to our Army Strong Soldiers, who give us that never-quit inspiration when things temporarily fall off pace.”
Newman knows that his No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, with a Hendrick Motorsports engine, has the potential of winning Sunday’s race at the 2.66-mile oval. But before he can put himself in position to win, he needs to avoid the wrecks.
“Talladega has always been a hit and miss race,” said Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 winner. “I think it’s time that we miss those big wrecks. We have a superspeedway car that can win, but history will tell you that to be successful at Talladega you have to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can easily be an innocent victim there. And no one knows better about that than our No. 39 U.S. Army team.”
Newman has had spectacular crashes at Talladega, but none more than last fall when his Army Chevrolet went airborne after being hit during a multicar melee. Once his car hit the ground it barrel rolled a number of times before landing upside down on the infield grass. He managed to escape serious injuries in the harrowing incident.
Sunday’s race will mark Newman’s 18th career Cup start at Talladega, where he has claimed four top fives and seven top 10s.
Newman’s Talladega Career Cup Record:
Year St Fn
2002 8 43
2003 8 39
2004 17 11
2005 5 39
2006 18 33
2007 28 9
2008 21 8
2009 25 3
2010 16 35
No. 39 U.S. Army Over-the-Wall Crew (city is hometown)
Front-tire changer: Scott Brzozowski, Sterling Heights, Mich.
Front-tire carrier: Josh Mick, Houston, Texas
Rear-tire changer: Brandon Hopkins, Danielson, Conn.
Rear-tire carrier: James Houk, Fair Play, Mo.
Gasman: Michael Moore, Springfield, Mass.
Jackman: Jeff Kerr, China Grove, N.C.
Catch Can: Andy Rueger, Seymour, Ind.
8th Man/Windshield: Jay Guarneri, Naples, Fla.
Crew Chief: Tony Gibson, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Car Chief: Kevin Pennell, Kannapolis, N.C.
Spotter: Jimmy Kitchens, Hueytown, Fla.
Engine Specialist: Jay Nolan, Jacksonville, Fla.
Engineers: Johnny Klausmeier, Perry Hall, Md.
Wes Gantt, Taylorsville, N.C.
Engine: Hendrick Motorsports
Shock Specialist : Brian Holshouser, Charlotte
Tire Specialist: Jeff Zarrella, Southington, Conn.