Playoff Payoff 2019: Ryan Newman

Generally speaking, Ryan Newman produced steady results for a top-15 points finish. (Photo Credit: Sean Folsom/TPF)

Generally speaking, Ryan Newman produced steady results for a top-15 points finish. (Photo Credit: Sean Folsom/TPF)

All things considered, Ryan Newman diligently compiled stable results en route to his ninth NASCAR Playoffs appearance of his career.  In a word, the 42-year-old South Bend, Ind. native was steady as can be.

However, the 2002 NASCAR Rookie of the Year winner described himself in a rather unique way following the regular season finale at Indianapolis.

Interestingly, Newman described himself in unique fashion. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Interestingly, Newman described himself in unique fashion. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

“I’m more rookie this year than I’ve ever been,” Newman observed.  “It’s been a year of progress, a year of learning, a year of a lot of things.”

For the most part, Newman improves the performances and stability of any team he’s competed for in the NASCAR Cup Series.  Definitely, in this case, the Hoosier State racer showcased some muscle in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford Mustang.

On the strength of three top-fives and 14 top-10 finishes, Newman posted an average finish of 14.56.  Indeed, “The Rocketman” logged the 10th best average finish of the 16 NASCAR Playoffs racers this year.

Of course, three top-fives doesn’t exactly scream sensational.  Then again, Newman proved his worth at Daytona and Talladega with an average finishing position of 7.0, including a runner up in the 1000Bulbs.com 500.

On the other hand, Newman garnered middling results at the superspeedways (13.33), short tracks (13.7), intermediates (16.54), and road courses (21.33).  By the same token, one could say that Newman consistently grinded out decent finishes when he lacked speed during the year.

Above all, Newman finished all but one race in 2019.  By finishing in 97.22 percent of the races this year, Newman boosted his chances towards strong results.

To his credit, Newman candidly shared his perspective of his No. 6 team following a crash-filled Brickyard 400.

Expressly, Ryan Newman carved out a workmanlike effort for 2019. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Expressly, Ryan Newman carved out a workmanlike effort for 2019. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

“I think we have a lot of work to do,” he observed.  “We’re by no means dominating led laps, qualified 22nd, finished 8th.  We’ve showed that we can progress throughout the race.

But we’ve got to start qualifying in the top-10 to be able to finish in the top-five.  And then we’ll prove that we’re made of more than what we’re showing.”

Naturally, one wonders how Newman keep finding himself making the NASCAR Playoffs or living up as the toughest driver to pass on the track?

Certainly, when taking a closer look at Newman’s season, he fought hard for his top-10 finishes.  Respectively, the grizzled veteran’s chances of scoring a top-10 at the short tracks, superspeedways, and intermediates were 40 percent, 33.3 percent, and 30.77 percent.

Furthermore, Newman finished inside the top-15 in 61.11% of the races this year.  By all means, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series season runner-up showcased why he remains as one of motorsports’ staying powers.

In particular, Newman ushered crew chief Scott Graves’ return to Roush Fenway Racing in rather respectable fashion.  Graves, previously serving as Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s crew chief in 2012-’13, can take heart with the potential of the No. 6 team’s rising stock and promise heading into 2020.

By and large, Newman remains one of the grittiest, intimidating racers.  Moreover, he’s not afraid to ruffle feathers with anyone on the track.  Surely, ask Matt DiBenedetto how it’s like to race Newman such as the case at Bristol’s Night Race.

Regardless of DiBenedetto’s bid for his first NASCAR Cup Series win, Newman made life a living hell for the popular Californian despite being out of the hunt for the race win.

Some would call Newman’s tactics shoddy while others understood his approach.  At the end of the day, the 20th-year Cup racer doesn’t seek out friends on the track.

As can be seen, "The Rocketman" takes it to the limit on a tough track like Dover. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

As can be seen, “The Rocketman” takes it to the limit on a tough track like Dover. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Instead, one could say that he desires sustained success despite his team’s search for speed and consistency.  Still, any team with a driver of Newman’s caliber improves greatly with his car savvy, engineering background, and tenacity.

As for the road ahead in 2020, Ryan Newman has the makings to return to the NASCAR Playoffs field.  All in all, Newman remains one of the fiercest, passionate racers on the grid.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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