NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 2 Ryan Newman

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Ryan Newman

Season finish: 2nd
2014 Season Stats: 0 wins, 5 top-5, 16 top-10, 0 Poles.

What went right: Newman made no apologies for playing the new Chase format to his advantage, and nearly captured the championship as a result. When it counted, he made the bump-and-run on Kyle Larson at Phoenix to advance to Homestead with a chance. Gelled well with crew chief Luke Lambert and the entire Richard Childress Racing team as a steady presence in a transitional year for the team, even though it was his first year.

What went wrong: The driver once known as “Rocket Man” didn’t score a single pole, and the driver who won eight races and finished sixth in points in 2003 went winless this year. Little else needs be said about what didn’t go according to plan for the 31 crew this year.

2015 Prospectus: No changes expected on the team front, and with Newman now integrated into RCR, he should be able to tick off the win/pole boxes in 2015. The only problem he might run into is the traditional “runner-up curse” that seems to plague the second-place finisher the next year – he oughta talk to Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin about that.