Ryan Newman back on the upswing with second consecutive top-10, looks to change bad luck at ‘Dega

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After a bit of a slump, Ryan Newman is definitely back on the upswing following Saturday’s eighth-place finish in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Newman collected his second consecutive top-10, having finished 10th two weeks earlier at Darlington.

After back-to-back seventh-place finishes at Phoenix and Las Vegas, Newman struggled at Bristol (16th) and another pair of back-to-back finishes (20th) at both Fontana and Martinsville.

But since then, the driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has finished 16th (Texas), 10th (Darlington) and now eighth at Richmond.

He was very competitive at Richmond, running in the top-five at times. He was running sixth with 15 laps left, but couldn’t make much forward progress, eventually ending up eighth.

“We battled a tight-handling condition throughout the race and Luke (Lambert, crew chief) did a good job keeping up with the way the track changed,” Newman said. “By the end of the night, we had a Chevrolet challenging for the win.

“Our biggest problem was the restarts. We seemed to find ourselves in the wrong line. We’d try to get a good restart, but a car in front of us would spin their tires and cut off all our momentum. Had we had a long run at the end, we may be in victory lane right now. We had one of the fastest cars on 40 and 50-lap, green-flag runs.”

Newman is now ninth in the Cup standings heading into this Sunday’s big race at Talladega. Unfortunately, the 2.66-mile superspeedway has not been one of Newman’s better tracks.

He’ll make his 25th career start there Sunday. In addition to at least two spectacular end-over-end crashes earlier in his career there, Newman has just four top-five and one other top-10 finish.

He’s hoping his good luck of late will change his run of bad luck at ‘Dega.

“Here’s hoping we can carry the momentum of the last two races into Talladega,” Newman said. “That superspeedway hasn’t been too kind to me, so hopefully me and my RCR team can start a new trend together.”

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).