Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Ryan Newman and his Penske Racing #12 Dodge Team finished up the 2007 season in 13th place.
Newman had an average start of 13.5 and an average finish of 18.1 this year. He led 287 laps, recieved 95 bonus points and finished the season with an 86.5 rating.
Compared to the 2006 season, improvements were made. Newman known for his pole positions only earned 2 in 2006 while earning 5 in 2007 (the other 4 years were higher than 5 poles). He had 7 top 5 finishes and 15 top 10 finishes this year compared to 2 and 7 last year.
Ryan Newman fans don't have to much to complain about regarding the 2007 Nascar Nextel Cup season. Sure Newman and his team finished 13th - outside the chase. Newman flirted with the 12th place position a lot this year but was never able to break into the top 12. Every time he got close, he fell back a position or 2.
Newman had some VERY bad luck during this 2007 season which really hampered his chances at making the chase.
In the 2007 season Newman was plagued with accidents and engine trouble. He was caught up in accidents in 4 different races and had engine problems in 5 races. That is 9 out of 36 races that he had fatal problems. He also had other problems like being on pit road at the wrong time (caution), having tires go down and it seems like a slew of other things. It is possible that rain even kept him from a win (Pocono). A tire definetly kept him from a win (Lowes). Newman even started the year with engine problems (Daytona 500).
These are not excuses for Newman, but it all did happen and it all did hurt his season.
But, on the brighter side of things, Newman's 2007 season was a lot better than his 2006 season. Newman really had a mulligan season in 2006 finishing in the 18th position. That was his worst year in his Nascar Nextel Cup career. In his first 4 seasons in the Nextel Cup (starting full time in 2002) his worst finishing position of the year was 7th. As long as Newman keeps going up in the points standings and overall him and his team mates keep doing a good job, Newman fans should not get to discouraged.
Ryan Newman's team mate Kurt Busch had the luxury this year of having no engine failures. So, I don't believe the engines Penske is getting are bad. In fact I think they are pretty good. I do how ever think that Newman's crew chief this year - Mike Nelson (new criew chief for the 2007 season) may not have been getting the engine right.
With 3 races left in the season, Newman was quoted as saying that they had "de-tuned" the engine a little to ensure that it lasted for the whole race. That kind of told me that it had been being "over tuned". Here is the quote from qualifying at Atlanta for the Dickies 500 -
"We're caught between a rock and a hard place. We're detuning the engine just enough so we can make the race but then we're hoping it will last for 500 miles."
They started 11th and finished 5th for that race. It is hard to judge one race or what exactly was done for other races, but this seemed to work.
For the last 10 races of the year Newman and his team did a great job. Newman had 2 engine failures and 2 accidents. After that 5 of the other last 6 were top 10 finishes with 4 of those being top 5 finishes.
Newman went win less in 2006 and 2007 making it 81 races and leading 530 laps since his last win. That win came back in 2005 on 09/18/2005 at New Hampshire - is only win of 2005.
LOOKING FORWARD -
I am looking for good things from Newman and his #12 Penske Racing team next year for the Sprint Cup (I still think that sounds wrong). Newman should be in the chase next year and I think early in the year Newman will break his win less streak.
Newman will be getting a new crew chief for the 2008 season. Roy McCulley will take of the duties of Mike Nelson who was promoted with in Penske. I have a good feeling about Roy and Ryan working together. During the 2006 season Newman ran in 9 Busch series races with Roy as his crew chief - he won 6 of those races. So I think these 2 have established that they can work together.
Newman and his team mate Kurt Bucsh (and their teams) seem to get along good and I think that helps. You always see (if your looking through them) pictures of Newman hanging out with Kurt Busch and Kurt's team. Penske is adding a team also in 2008. Sam Hornish JR. will be driving the #77 Mobil 1 Sprint Cup car. having an addition team mate could be an advantage for Newman. Hopefully it won't take away from any of the resorces that Newman does currently have.
Newman's contract with Penske will be over at the end of the 2008 season. There are rumors and speculations that Newman will move on to another team. I hope that this is not the case. I think Newman will have a great year in 2008 and decide to stay with Penske - and Penske will want to keep him.
A good thing about Newman is that he is a "nice guy". On and off the track. Or so he appears to be. Rarely is he in the news headlines for making someone mad or driving to aggressively. He isn't one of these arrogant guys that wants to be interviewed 15 times a day or tries to make sure he is in the news all of the time.
I think he needs to be a little more aggressive. He needs to get punt other cars out of the way sometimes like some other drivers do. Don't get me wrong. He will race hard and he won't always easily give up positions. But I feel like he needs to be a little more "in-your-face" sometimes.
Good luck to Ryan for his 7th Sprint Cup season in 2008.