Entering the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Ryan Newman was a wild card, squeaking his way into the postseason as the 16th and final seed.
But in typical Newman fashion, he and the No. 6 team are making the most of their opportunity. They have put together two respectable finishes to kick off the Round of 16, including a fifth-place finish on Saturday night (Sept. 21) at Richmond Raceway.
Newman started the Federated Auto Parts 400 from 19th position and remained in the back half of the top 20 for most of stage one. But in stage two, the No. 6 Ford charged to the front, earning five stage points for a sixth-place finish.
That’s about where he would stay for much of the remainder of this race. In fact, Newman rose as high as third before taking the checkered flag in fifth, behind only a trio of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas and Brad Keselowski.
Newman believes that Richmond was the best the No. 6 team has been all season, despite also finishing fifth in the rain-shortened Daytona International Speedway race back in July.
“It was the best team performance all around throughout the entire weekend,” Newman said after the race. “We failed in qualifying, got the car too tight. But overall, great team effort to get a good run.
“What meant the most to me was just being better than we were the first race. We ran ninth in the first race, qualified like 30th or something like that, and we came back and showed that we were learning and we’ll keep learning.”
By earning 39 points, Newman went from 13th on the playoff board heading into Richmond and six points out to sitting pretty in ninth. Though Newman says he would much rather have won the race, it was a character-building day for the No. 6 team.
“Had a good short-run car, one time had a good long-run car, but we could never get both,” he explained. “I think if we could have had both, we could have run with those guys. We were at our best when we were a little bit biased for a long-run car.
“Take away those four Gibbs cars, we were racing for the win. I know it doesn’t work that way, but if they would have had one bad meeting, we would have been in the hunt.”
Newman enters the ROVAL next weekend in solid position. In the track’s debut last season, the Indiana native finished just outside the top 10 in 11th.