Newman uses strategy to end 2013 winless drought
By Isabel Gonzalez
March 19, 2017
AVONDALE, Ariz.—After 314 laps under the grueling Phoenix sun, Ryan Newman ended a 112 winless drought for the Richard Childress Racing team.
The driver of the No. 31 Chevy became the winner of the 13th Annual Camping World 500 on Saturday after also ending his own stretch of 127 races without a victory. Newman hadn’t won a race since Indianapolis in 2013.
“If we go out and win the next three races in a row, it will still feel sweet,” Newman said. “After not winning for so long in a sport that's so demanding, it does add some sugar to it.”
The driver said this has been the longest drought he’s experienced, which made this victory especially sweet to him. However, Newman said he’s learned that it is important to remain humble.
“There's a lot of guys in this sport that have never won,” he said. Going a long time without winning, you have confidence in your mind that you can do it… You just got to stay humble. This sport, you walk away from it, there's one guy that wins, 39 losers.”
Newman’s win came in part thanks to a decision made by crew chief Luke Lambert. Lambert took a gamble when he chose to dismiss a request for pitting to replace two tires, and instead, told Newman to keep driving.
The gamble paid off and Lambert got to enjoy a victory at a place that is special to him.
“This is the racetrack that I won my first race as a crew chief in the XFINITY Series a few years back, in 2012,” he said. “This has become a very special place to me. It's a really, really challenging racetrack as a crew chief and as a race team to create a racecar that performs well.”
The final stat sheet shows two drivers with triple digits when it comes to laps led. Newman was not one of them, as he only led for a total of six. Kyle Busch led 114, while Chase Elliott found himself in the lead for 106 laps.
Joey Logano began Sunday’s race with the advantage of having won the pole.
The driver of the No. 22 Ford took Stage 1 after leading 74 laps. The one lap he didn’t lead belonged to Reed Sorenson, driver of the #15 Chevrolet. Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski gave Logano a run for his money, as they stayed closed behind him throughout out the stage.
Logano might have had a strong start, however, he was not able to close out the race as an incident in Turn 1 left him out at lap 308 of the final stage. He was 10th at the time.
The end of the second stage saw Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 car, as the leader. By this time, there were nine lead changes with five different leaders, Newman was still nowhere to be seen among the top contenders.
His time would come, but not till the very end. The race first had to see eight cautions, which added up to 45 laps.
One of these cautions came out at lap 193 after Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota had its right front tire explode just before hitting the wall. Prior to this, Kenseth had been complaining about the car being tight.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had been running in the top-15 until the accident. He finished in the 37th spot.
At lap 196, Kyle Busch’s No.18 Toyota was leading the pack. Logano’s accident unintentionally disrupted Busch’s lead. Newman took over at lap 309 and the rest is history.
With Busch’s and Logano’s post-game fight at Las Vegas still fresh on people’s minds, Busch’s wife went on Twitter after Saturday’s race to make a comical reference to one of her husband's interviews after the Las Vegas incident. In the interview, Busch avoided saying much, only responding to reporters’ questions with “everything is great.” SOURCES: Racing-Reference.info