"Money doesn't do it," said car owner Rick Hendrick, after Tony Stewart won the Nationwide Series for him. "It's dedication and determination. He's going be one of the greatest owners in the sport because that's all he wants to do and thinks about."
And Tony Stewart, who owns half of Stewart-Haas Racing, just may be that. But when Hendrick says money doesn't do it, it's especially true for driver Ryan Newman.
For him, beginning with this new team has been anything but easy.
A disastrous Speed Weeks forced Newman, not only to his own backup car, but eventually to his team owner's car as well. He had a disappointing 36th place finish in the Daytona 500, and started and finished 28th the following week at the Auto Club Speedway.
The slow start, however, isn't getting the driver down.
"It has definitely been an interesting couple of weeks for the team," Newman said. "You want to sit back and just say ‘What else?’ But you have to keep on working through it. Luck is a big part of racing. You can have the best car at the track all day, have a huge lead and have some freak issue occur one corner from the end of the race—and that’s it. You went from the first car to the last car. Unfortunately, we’ve been on the bad luck side of things for the last two races.
"It isn’t the first time I’ve had bad luck. I’m just ready for my luck to change."
Newman has the chance to get on track, but it'll have to be at a track that hasn't been too kind to him. He has an average finish of 19th, one DNF, and hasn't broken fifth place since 2002.
"The Rocket Man" won 13 races and 43 poles with former team Penske Racing, including the 2008 Daytona 500. During this past off-season, Newman has changed teams, car manufacture, and his sponsor.
"It’s a unique situation (working with the US Army). You’re representing our fight for freedom with their fight for freedom. At the same time, for me, I have to do my job to help the recruiting process for generations to come so we can have the freedom we enjoy.
"I had some experience going to Fort Bragg before the season started, and I had an absolute blast. They had dynamite going off, shooting guns, I got to experience some of the things they do from a safety standpoint, the technology and training. I really look forward to doing a lot more with the army so I can understand and speak more educated to you and others about what they’re doing to secure our freedom."
Crew chief Tony Gibson believes things can only get better for No. 39.
"These Haas Automation guys are working hard, and I am really proud of them," Gibson said. "The communication between me and Ryan continues to improve with each run in practice. When we can get things turned around and our luck changed, I think that we’re really going to have something."
Can Ryan Newman turn his luck around? To find out, be sure to tune into FOX this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EST when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers see if lady luck is on their side at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Thanks to The Dallas Morning News, Racing Reference, Scene Daily, and the Star-Telegram for the quotes and information used in this piece.
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