Motorsports Insider: Ryan Newman can laugh, especially after winning

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Series updates Sprint Cup Back up there: Jeff Gordon is back in the top 10 for only the second time this season, after four top 10s in the past five races. Now he’s headed to Pocono, where he has more wins and laps led than anyone. Cluster of luster: The six drivers between eighth and 13th in the standings — Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski — have eight championships and 180 wins among them. And right now, they are separated by 12 points. Nationwide First-timer: Austin Dillon is at the top of the point standings for the first time in his career. He is the third different leader in three weeks. Sauter nephew: Travis Sauter, a nephew of Jay and Johnny Sauter, is making his series debut in the No. 87 Toyota for NEMCO Motorsports. Camping World Truck Halfway home: The series hits its halfway point Saturday at Pocono. Series leader Matt Crafton has been in the top 10 in all 10 races. New ride: Todd Bodine starts the second half in the No. 30 Chevy for Turner Motorsports. Kyle Larson won in it at Rockingham and finished second on the dirt at Eldora. IndyCar Back for Panther: Oriol Serva is back in the No. 4 Chevy for Panther Racing this week at Mid-Ohio, where he has six top-10s in eight starts. Regular driver Ryan Briscoe is still recovering from a broken wrist. NHRA In the playoffs: Fort Worth’s Spencer Massey clinched a spot in the Countdown to the Championship in Funny Car by finishing second at Sonoma last week. By the numbers 3 Drivers in the top 10 in Sprint Cup without a victory: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon. They said it “In 2003, it was a strange deal — the first time I ever ran an all-oval series. It’s fair to say I was a little reluctant to start with, but also very young. I didn’t really know what I had achieved at that point. It was still a hell of an accomplishment.” — Two-time IndyCar series champion Scott Dixon, second in 2013 points.

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You could say Ryan Newman doesn’t have a big personality, and you’d be right. He’s very much the quiet Midwestern type.

But he does know how to laugh along with a joke.

Even at his own expense.

“Ogres don’t have emotions. You know that,” he said after winning at Indianapolis on Sunday.

That was a poke at himself, but also a joke back at Kyle Busch, who’d called him a “big ogre” after getting mad at him for a wreck in New Hampshire two weeks earlier.

See? Newman’s not all serious.

Although, right now, who could blame him?

The 35-year-old from South Bend, Ind., doesn’t have a job for next year. Stewart Haas Racing said no to re-upping his contract (just a few days before he was called an ogre), so he’s finishing out the string this year.

He has decent prospects if he can put together a good year. He’s put himself in position for a run at a spot in the Chase for the Championship.

But it’s been 10 years since he had a season with more than one win. It could be that he’s peaked.

He’s likely to get a ride. But he might not ever be in better equipment than he is now.

“It makes it better, looking for something for 2014,” Newman said of the victory. “There’s a lot of questions to be answered. We’ll get through all that.”

At least Newman had a week off between losing his ride and his hometown race in Indy to think about things.

“That weekend off, I think, was good timing, to be able to hit control-alt-delete,” he said.

Newman has at least put himself back on the radar for potential employers.

He has a sponsor he could bring with him. His team also got something for its résumé with the Indy win.

“I got fired a couple weeks ago, come back here, win the pole, win the race,” he said. “It’s all because of hard effort. It’s all because they haven’t given up. They want to win just as bad as I do. I did a good job of not hitting the fence, hitting the pit stall box, and they did their job. We always rally behind each other. That’s why it’s a team sport and it makes it so tough.

“I’m only a percentage of what gets us to Victory Lane. It’s not a free throw. It’s not a slow pitch. There’s tough stuff going on out there. These guys are behind me, and I’m behind them.”

Doesn’t sound like much of an ogre.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter @calexmendez

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