For the first time in several years, Ryan Newman isn’t racing for his life at the Richmond Raceway in September. Because of his win at Phoenix back in March, Newman already knew then that he’d be among the 16 drivers vying for this year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship come the fall. That means he’s not trying to points his way into the playoffs in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN) like he has the last few years.
With that being said, watch out for Newman this weekend. The Richard Childress Racing driver has been quietly good the last month or so. Since Daytona in July, Newman has four top six finishes to his credit. In fact, three of those four have come in the last six races. In the 16 races prior to Daytona, he had just two top six finishes.
On top of that, he’s been very good at Richmond lately. He has four top 10 finishes over his last eight starts on the .75-mile Virginia track. He was seventh in April and has an average finishing spot of 12.10 there.
Furthermore, Newman has been very good on short tracks this season. At Phoenix he won. At Martinsville, he finished eighth. He was seventh at Richmond in the spring. At Bristol, he finished 14th and sixth respectively. At Dover he finished fourth.
So, I would say that the No. 31 Chevrolet is going to be a top 10 factor once again this weekend.