Newman: Indy win “gives us more hope” of making Chase

1 Comment

Ryan Newman was able to keep his hopes of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup alive last weekend with a well-received victory in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Now, he’s looking for one more win in the final six “regular season’ events that he thinks could put him and his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet team over the top.

“Another win would be amazing just based on the history of what I’ve seen with the wild cards,” he said on Friday at Pocono Raceway. “Two [wins] is pretty much going to lock you into a [Chase] wild card spot. And we still have a shot. I think we’re 25 [points] out of 10th and there’s still a lot of racing to go.

“It hasn’t changed my mentality other than the fact that it changed, I guess, your hope. It doesn’t change my drive. My drive is to go out and do the exact same thing regardless.”

Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono could be a make-or-break afternoon for Newman, who sits 16th in the standings and third among the drivers in the 11th-20th rankings that have one win; boss/teammate Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr. currently hold the two wild-card spots.

Newman will drive the same race car that he took to victory last weekend at Indy, and with that track and Pocono sharing some characteristics, he should be able to enjoy a solid pace. Yesterday, he qualified fourth for Sunday’s race.

“There are no guarantees, but…I feel like we have been able to sharpen up some of the things that we did in the June race here,” said Newman. “We have done a lot of testing since then and obviously a lot of racing, and the Indianapolis race was huge.

“So hopefully, we can make it happen but like I said, there are no guarantees. It is probably the closest back-to-back races that we have in the season that are somewhat similar on the set-up side.”

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.