NASCAR in Joliet: Ryan Newman’s hope realized: He’s in the Chase
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org September 10, 2013 10:26PM
NASCAR driver Ryan Newman (left) and Clint Bowyer. | AP file photo
Where: Chicagoland Speedway, Laraway Road and Route 53, Joliet
When: Friday through Sunday
Tickets: Call (888) 629-7223
Parking: Free. Lots open at 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday; early bird parking at 6 a.m. Sunday.
EnjoyIllinois.com 225 (Camping World Truck Series) practice, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
EnjoyIllinois.com 225 final practice, 11 to 11:50 a.m.
GEICO 400 (Sprint Cup Series) practice, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Dollar General 300 (Nationwide Series) practice, 1:40 to 2:55 p.m.
EnjoyIllinois.com 225 qualifying, 3:05 p.m.
GEICO 400 qualifying, 4:10 p.m.(ESPN2)
Dollar General 300 final practice, 5:35 to 6:50 p.m.
EnjoyIllinois.com 225, 7:30 p.m. (Fox Sports1)
GEICO 400 practice, 10 to 10:55 a.m.
Dollar General 300 qualifying, 11:05 a.m. (Fox Sports2)
GEICO 400 final practice, 1 to 1:50 p.m. (Fox Sports2)
Dollar General 300, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Grandstands open, 9 a.m.
Brantley Gilbert pre-race concert, 11:10 a.m.
GEICO 400 driver introductions,
GEICO 400, 1 p.m. (ESPN;
WERV-FM 95.9; WCCQ-FM 98.3)
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:29AM
NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth is the first Chase-eligible driver headed to town Wednesday, when he will tour Chicago landmarks, such as Willis Tower and Millennium Park.
However, as NASCAR and Kenseth prepare for Sunday’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the talk won’t center around Kenseth’s chances for winning the second championship of his career or if Jimmie Johnson is going to win a sixth Cup.
It’s going to be about how Martin Truex Jr. is out of the Chase and Ryan Newman is in, and how three Chase drivers are racing with their respective teams for the last time before heading elsewhere in 2014.
Newman is in the Chase because NASCAR on Monday penalized Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Truex, Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer. All three drivers were docked 50 points in the Cup standings. That pushed Truex to 17th in the point standings and out of wild-card contention. Newman was able to move up in the points standings to get the last wild-card spot.
MWR also was fined $300,000, executive vice president/general manager/spotter Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely and the organization docked 50 more points in the owners championship standings.
NASCAR president Michael Helton said MWR drivers manipulated the outcome of Saturday’s race at Richmond so Truex could make the Chase as a wild card ahead of Newman. Helton said the monetary fine is the largest in NASCAR’s history.
“I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on Saturday night at Richmond,” Newman said in a statement. “I know it was a tough decision to make. With that being said, myself, (crew chief) Matt Borland and this entire No. 39 team are looking forward to competing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.”
Earlier Monday, Newman had good news when he announced he will race for Richard Childress Racing in 2014, driving the No. 31 car. In July, Newman was told his contract at Stewart-Haas Racing was not being renewed because the organization was going to sign Kevin Harvick — who announced he was leaving RCR for Stewart-Haas.
Newman said Childress initially approached him in February at the Daytona 500 about coming over to RCR, but Newman wasn’t sure about leaving SHR yet.
“It was too early to even think about that, but I appreciated the offer,” Newman said. “Our conversations matured over time. After Loudon (N.H.) when I was told (by SHR) what I wasn’t going to be doing, the conversations intensified.”
Newman isn’t the only Chase driver on his last hurrah with his current team. Harvick, who enters the GEICO 400 fourth in points, is headed to SHR, along with Kurt Busch (10th).
Harvick and Busch will give SHR four teams next year, joining Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.
So Newman went from being the odd man out at SHR to landing a job with Childress, one of the sport’s stalwarts. He also went from being out of the Chase to in the hunt for the championship. That may not erase the hurt of what happened at Richmond.
“To me, what happened Saturday night is the toughest thing that I’ve ever gone through in any kind of racing in my 30 years of driving,” Newman said. “It was because of the way everything went down and, in hindsight, how it hurt that much more.”