Ryan Newman quietly making the chase

Tom ThomasonCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

JOLIET, IL - JULY 09:  Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, stands on grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 9, 2009 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

He doesn't stir up trouble. He doesn't give alot of one liners. The media doesn't hound him.

But make no mistake,the man they call Rocket is a bad-ass race-car driver. Newman has five top-five finishes and nine top 10s this season, already more then his totals from 2008, when he won the Daytona 500 to start the season.

He is also right in the middle of the race to the chase for the 2009 season. To make things even more impressive is the fact that he is racing for the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing
team. The same team that many claimed would never make it with Tony Stewart at the helm.

Not only has the team made it, they are leading in the standings with Stewart with 3054 points going into Pocono August 2nd. On top of that, Stewart-Haas is looking to add another driver. There have been Rumors of SHR adding everyone from Brad Keselowski to Danica Patrick.

Of-course the fact that SHR gets support form Rick Hendrick makes things easier. The constant sharing of information between SHR and HMS is also a nice benefit for Stewart and Newman. But better equipment can't guarantee success. No need to look further then the 88 team to prove that little nugget of truth.

Newman hasn't made the chase since 2005. He has 13 career wins with an impressive 44 poles,
115 top 10's and 68 top 5's. His best finish in the standings was 6th place in 2002, 2003 and 2005. There's a good chance for Newman to pad his stats this weekend at Pocono.

Newman has performed well at the Tri-oval in the past. He has seven top 10's, six top 5's and one win. He has two poles with an average finish of 13.3. He also led 162 laps in 15 races at Pocono.

Ryan Newman may not be making headlines like fellow racer Kyle Busch Or Most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr but,he is a very patient and professional driver who can race with anyone. Even though he hasn't won a race this year, you can be sure that his colleagues wont take him lightly.

You don't earn the Nickname "Rocket man" for nothing. In 2002, Newman won a season-best 6 poles, breaking the record held by the late Davey Allison. In September, he won his first Winston Cup race at New Hampshire after earning the the pole. Newman also became the second rookie since Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the The Winston, and beat out Jimmie Johnson for the Rookie of the Year award.

While Ryan Newman may not be your favorite driver, I hope that you can still be happy for Ryan since he seems to have found a comfortable home driving for fellow Indiana native Tony Stewart. IN the end there is something to be said for feeling at home.