Ryan Newman, one of the 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to qualify for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, spent Tuesday, Sept. 15 discussing his championship goals, getting wrapped up in crepe paper and advising children to take their education seriously.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, visited Fred Fifer III Middle School in Camden, Del., on Sept. 15 as part of NASCAR’s Chase Across North America program.
As part of NASCAR’s Chase Across North America program, which aims to educate fans on the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format by having a Chase driver visit each market of a track that hosts a Chase race, Newman met with media members at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino before visiting Fred Fifer III Middle School in Camden, Del. Dover International Speedway hosts the third event in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the “AAA 400,” on Sunday, Oct. 4.
At Fifer Middle School, Newman spoke to approximately 1,000 students during two pep rallies, took questions from the students, signed autographs and participated in two relay races where he and Fifer teachers and administrators were wrapped in crepe paper by four students each, before racing across a mat to the finish line. Newman, who is used to running up front in NASCAR Sprint Cup fields based on his 51 career poles, won both races.
“I’ve been racing since I was 4½ years old,” Newman said to the group of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. “It’s important to set goals for yourself, and to stick with your education.”
Newman, who revealed to the students that his favorite subject was math, said NASCAR Sprint Cup Series legend Jeff Gordon encouraged him many years ago to complete his education before plunging into a racing career. Newman took that advice to heart, graduating from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., in 2001 with a degree in engineering.
SiriusXM radio host and Delaware native Mike Bagley served as the emcee for the pep rallies, and drew loud cheers when he announced that students would be receiving tickets to the “Hisense 200” NASCAR XFINITY Series race, set for Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Monster Mile.
“We have a nice core group of students who follow NASCAR,” said Brian Smith, Fifer Middle School’s principal. “This is a great event and it allows us to get everyone involved.”
Newman, a three-time winner at Dover International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be looking to stay alive in the championship race when he visits the Monster Mile for the “AAA 400,” which will serve as the first elimination round in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, with four of the event’s 16 drivers knocked out of contention once the checkered flag drops.
“In the first round, I’ve won at all three of the tracks [including Chicagoland and New Hampshire],” Newman said. “Dover is right up there [among my favorites].”
On Tuesday, Newman said his season of solid finishes with his Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet team needs to continue in order for him to be in contention for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
“We’ve been super competitive at all types of tracks,” said Newman, who has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season. “Our consistency is one of our biggest strengths. You can’t afford to go two laps down at some of these tracks, including Dover.”
Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 champion, 2002 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year and winner of 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, made the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup for the seventh time in his career this year. Newman has also earned a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in previous years for Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing. Newman finished second in last year’s championship standings, one point behind Kevin Harvick.
“It was great last year, but nobody knows what it will be this year,” said Newman of his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup experience. “The intensity is only going to increase.”
NASCAR’s playoffs — the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup — is a 10-race culmination to the season that crowns a battle-tested champion. Starting with a 16-driver field, four drivers will be eliminated after every three races, setting up a “winner take all” championship showdown at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM). The top finisher among the Championship 4 in Miami will win the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Dover International Speedway will host the first elimination race of the Chase on Sunday, Oct. 4 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
For tickets or more information, call 800-441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com. You can also keep up with the Monster Mile at Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway, or on Twitter at @MonsterMile and Instagram at @MonsterMile.
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RYAN NEWMAN FACTS
Birthday: Dec. 8, 1977 (age 37)
Hometown: South Bend, Ind.
Resides: Statesville, N.C.
Year of first NASCAR Sprint Cup race: 2000 (Phoenix)
First full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season: 2002 (won Rookie of the Year)
Current Crew Chief: Luke Lambert
Daytona 500 wins: 1 (2008)
Sprint All-Star race wins: 1 (2002)
Highest Sprint Cup Series points finish: (2nd, 2014)
Did You Know?
- The first time the Monster Trophy at Dover International Speedway was awarded in Victory Lane was to commemorate the start of the then-new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Ryan Newman took home the first trophy with his victory in the MBNA America 400 on Sept. 26, 2004.
- Newman is one of 26 drivers to have at least one win in NASCAR’s top three series – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (17 victories), NASCAR XFINITY Series (7 victories) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (1 victory).
- Newman is 8th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with 2,040 points. Newman has five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2015, earning more than $4 million.
- Newman graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., in 2001 with a degree in engineering.
Career at Dover International Speedway
Laps Completed: 10,639 of 10,809 (98.43%)
Laps Led: 848 (most for Newman at any track)
Wins: 3 (June 1, 2003, “MBNA Armed Forces Family 400”; Sept. 21, 2003, “MBNA America 400”; Sept. 26, 2004, “MBNA America 400”; tied for most at any track-New Hampshire)
Average Start: 9.9
Average Finish: 13.59
Top 5: 6
Top 10: 13
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Record
(through Sept. 20, 2015 at Chicagoland)
Top 5: 103
Top 10: 213
Average Finish: 16.0
Average Start: 11.9
Total Laps: 141,341
Total Laps Led: 4,677
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Record
Appearances: 7 (2004, 2005 with Team Penske; 2009, 2011, 2013 with Stewart-Haas Racing; 2014, 2015 with Richard Childress Racing)
Highest finish: (2nd, 2014, finished one point behind Kevin Harvick)
Chase Starts: 60
Chase Wins: 2 (2004, Dover; 2005, New Hampshire)
Top 5: 11
Top 10: 29