One month ago, Ryan Newman was told that he’d be out of a ride at Stewart-Haas Racing at season’s end. Now, he is SHR’s last hope to contend for a Sprint Cup championship in 2013.
Before breaking two bones in his right leg during a Monday night sprint car crash in Iowa, Newman’s boss and teammate, Tony Stewart, was holding the first of the two Chase Wild Card spots (the other belonging to Martin Truex Jr.) by virtue of his win at Dover earlier this year.
But Stewart’s injuries have likely taken him out of the Chase picture, which means that Truex, currently 14th in the Cup standings, is set to ascend to the first Wild Card spot.
The next guy behind him? Newman, who is currently nine points off of Truex and has jumped from 19th to 15th in the standings following a Brickyard 400 win and a fourth-place finish at Pocono over the last two weeks.
“The last two races were awesome for us as far as the point standings go,” he said in a team statement. “It would have been really good if we were able to get our second win of the season at Pocono, but the guys we’re racing could likely say the same things with regard to some of the races they’ve had.
“[Crew chief] Matt Borland and the guys are doing a great job bringing fast race cars to the track every week. I’m looking forward to heading to Watkins Glen this week, and I’m especially looking forward to Michigan the following week because the package we’ve got on the bigger, flatter tracks really seems to be working well for us right now.”
A win this weekend – which would be his second of the year – could help Newman escape a very cramped points race among those looking to get into NASCAR’s post-season. He can also still climb into the Top 10 and gain an automatic bid that way; he’s 24 points out of the critical 10th position going into Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.