RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 10, 2011) — In the final race before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins, U.S. Army driver Ryan Newman pulled off another solid performance, finishing eighth in Saturday night’s Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Driving the 9/11 U.S. Army Chevrolet, which carried the names of the 75 U.S. Army personnel killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, Newman posted his 13th top-10 finish of the season.
He enters the Chase as the eighth seed with 2003 points. Each driver begins the Chase with 2000 points plus a bonus of three points (excluding the two wild cards) for each win during the first 26 races. (see below for Chase point standings)
Newman’s teammate and team owner, Tony Stewart, finished seventh in the race and clinched a berth in the Chase as the ninth seed with 2000 points.
“We won the battle, now we have to go out and win the war,” said Newman, who came into the Richmond race having already clinched a position in the Chase. “I am happy for Tony (Stewart) and really proud of the entire Stewart-Haas Racing organization. We have an opportunity for our Soldiers to win a championship that they deserve. And that’s a great feeling.”
Newman started the 400-lap short track race at the .75-mile oval from the 18th position. He managed to avoid numerous accidents and spinning cars which forced NASCAR to wave the yellow flag 15 times for a total of 85 laps.
“It got crazy out there and we were fortunate to miss all those wrecks,” noted Newman. “We didn’t have a great car, but we managed to finish strong. The over-the-wall crew was absolutely awesome tonight.”
Newman fought his way into the top-10 near Lap 100 and virtually stayed there for the entire race.
Before arriving in Richmond, Newman and his U.S. Army NHRA teammate, Tony Schumacher, laid a wreath Thursday at both the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
“Tonight’s race capped off an emotional week,” said Newman on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. “The 75 great Americans who rode along with me were both an inspiration and honor. I wish we could have scored a win for them, but we gave it our best effort.”
The Richmond race winner was Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, David Ragan and Kurt Busch.
The first Chase race is next Sunday (Sept. 18) at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Driver Point Standings Heading Into The 10-Race Chase
1. Kyle Busch, 2012 points
2. Kevin Harvick, 2012
3. Jeff Gordon, 2009
4. Matt Kenseth, 2006
5. Carl Edwards, 2003
6. Jimmie Johnson, 2003
7. Kurt Busch, 2003
8. Ryan Newman, 2003
9. Tony Stewart, 2000
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2000
11. Brad Keselowski, 2000 (wild card)
12. Denny Hamlin, 2000 (wild card)