59 points away from 12th – 6 races to go.
It is possible, but it seems that every time Newman gets close to that 12th position, he falls back again. Starting with race #10 at Richmond, Newman broke the 20th position and has stayed above 20th since then. After Richmond he was in the 19th position. The following week he fell to 18th. The next 3 weeks he advanced to 18th, then 15th and then up to 13th. After that he dropped to 15th then bounced around 13th and 14th up until now where he is sitting in 14th.
Not once this season has he broke into 12th position. Most of his "bad" races have not been his fault or his crews. He has had engine trouble and accidents that have left him with some disappointing finishes.
Newman's stats this season are not awful. They are by no means great either. 20 races into the season he has 4 poles (one of which he had to start in the rear of the field because of an engine), 0 wins, 3 top 5's and 8 top 10's. The numbers that don't look all that great include an average starting position of 14.8 and an average finish of 19.9.
Can Newman make the chase? Yes it is possible especially if some of the people in the top 12 don't do so good. Jimmy Johnson keeps sliding back, but probably won't be a factor. Dale Earnhardt JR is a good example. Last weekend at Indianapolis he blew and engine. His bad day saved Newman from dropping off even further from 12th and helped his team mate Kurt Busch move up to only 13 points away from 12th.
JR's teammate Martin Truex JR is 118 points ahead of JR in 11th. So he is feeling a LITTLE secure and having a good season. Right now 12th place is between Dale Earnhardt JR, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman for this upcoming week at Pocono. McMurray is another 54 points behind Newman putting him 113 points away from 12th position. And in all reality, it is probaby just between Busch and Earnhardt JR for this week.
Luckily, Newman is better at Pocono than Busch or Earnhardt JR. Newman has an average finish at Pocono of 14.2 compared to Earnhardt JR's 18.3 and Busch's 15.7. Both Newman and Busch have a win here and Newman has 5 Top'5 and Top 10's compared to Busch's 6 Top 5's and Top 10's. Also Newman placed second in the race earlier this year and looked very strong when the race was canceled due to rain.
Basically a lot can happen in 6 races and 59 points is not hard to make up. If Newman does crack the top 12 this season, now is the time to do it.