Photo courtesy of Richard Childress Racing AVONDALE, Ariz. -- It was a question that’s been asked almost as long as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have been competing in companion events over the course of a weekend. "So Ryan , did you learn anything out there today that might help you on Sunday?" "Yes. You definitely don't want to hit the cone. There's a pass-through penalty for that," Newman said. It was a joke, of course. Ryan Newman had just climbed from behind the "wheel" of a Caterpillar D11 T bulldozer, a mammoth piece of equipment that tips the scales at 230,000 pounds. His No. 31 Chevrolet, fielded by Richard Childress Racing , carries primary sponsorship from Caterpillar. For this weekend's race at Phoenix International Raceway (renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 , 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the black and yellow paint scheme features Cat Command Autonomous Mining on the rear quarter panels. So there Newman was, taking the D11 T through its paces, moving around an obstacle course and pushing around a lot of dirt. Did I mention the dozer, the course and the dirt was located outside Tucson, nearly 150 miles away from Newman and Phoenix? Caterpillar's Cat Command is a program that allows heavy equipment to be operated remotely. Thanks to technological advances, the operator can be on site, if not behind the wheel, or more than 100 miles away, as was the case here Friday morning. The benefits, such as safety and increased production, appear to be numerous. It was a new experience for Newman , 37, and a 17-time winner in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, but not an entirely foreign one. "I'd say the closest thing to it, something that is somewhat parallel to some of the stuff that we're doing in the Sprint Cup Series … is the (race car) simulation," he said. "This is different in the form that you're performing a service … getting a job done. Whereas where what we're doing is about subjective feeling and feedback and trying to base it off a stopwatch. "But it's really interesting to see the use of technology and how Caterpillar has adapted all that to the job site." Can automated racing be far behind? NASCAR from afar? "I hope not," he said. "That kind of takes me out of a job. I might enjoy the air-conditioned office but I like the physical part of (my job). "For me, it's all about driving the race car. I like that, to be able to feel that … to take it to that edge and be super competitive." And that "feel" wouldn't exist outside the vehicle, whether it's in a race car going 180 mph or a piece of heavy equipment with a top speed of 7 mph. "Here, it's more about the edge of the (bulldozer's) blade and not the edge of control," he said.
Ryan Newman races his way into the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Round by moving Kyle Larson out of the way in the last lap of the 2014 Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
There are no words for Newman's Talladega style choice Needless to say -- it doesn't appear that Ryan Newman is feeling the presure of being on the Chase Bubble. RELATED: Chase Bubble Watch The Richard Childress Racing driver sits eight points behind Martin Truex Jr . for the final advancement spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, but was able to show off his humorous -- we hope -- side at Talladega during an NBCSN interview on Friday afternoon. Someone's ready for #TalladegaBlvd Are you @CocaColaRacing fans? #ChaseHappiness #NewmanNation pic.twitter.com/EQHwb7GP0G — #RCRNation (@RCRracing) October 23, 2015 Newman , a man known for his dry humor and cunning wit, appeared to play the hat off as a serious addition to his outfit along with his firesuit. There's a good chance he's just messing with us -- maybe just trying out an early Halloween costume? -- but if not, kudos for the bold choice. But still -- Pharrell much, anyone?
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's a familiar scenario facing Ryan Newman as the Richard Childress Racing driver prepares for a two-race journey to lock in one of the 16 spots in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. At this same point in the season last year, Newman sat ninth in points and was winless with two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He eventually earned a Chase bid based on his points position, then parlayed the consistency that got him a berth into a ticket into the Championship Round, where he nearly became the series' first winless champion. Following his 10th-place finish in Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Newman finds himself 11th in points, with four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes thus far this season. He's also still searching for that first win, which would guarantee his status as a Chase participant. At Bristol, Newman and his No. 31 team, led by crew chief Luke Lambert, once again did what they have become nearly the best in the series at doing -- taking a car that wasn't particularly fast and earning a top-10 finish with it. "We weren't the best car all day," Newman said while standing beside the No. 31 Chevrolet on pit road after the race. "We kind of finished where we ran, if not just a little bit better. "It was a good run for the team. We took a 20th-place car in practice and qualifying and turned it into a top-10 (in the race). We were not the best car and we didn't win the race, but the guys did a good job in the pits and we made the race car better." Newman and the team hadn't shown speed on Friday, working their way to 26th- and 18th-place positions during the first and second practice sessions, respectively. At the end of the day, Newman logged the 18th-fastest time in qualifying for the series' 24th race of the season. Saturday night, Newman slowly made his way through the field, eventually cracking the top 10 well into the second half of the 500-lap race. Not having that initial speed when arriving at the track has been a problem, Newman admitted, but added that it's kept the team close as they battle to secure a Chase spot. "Yeah it's better when you start off the weekend better," he said, "but that's what makes us pull together as a team, find speed and … fight strong at the end." Newman , RCR teammate Paul Menard , Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) currently hold the five final Chase positions with two races remaining -- at Darlington Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- before the postseason starts. Newman , 37, is a six-time qualifier for the Chase, with last season's runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick a career-best points finish.
RELATED: Full Richmond results RICHMOND, Va. -- There were no last-second heroics, no pit-road gambles or stunning strategy in an effort to beat the odds. For Jamie McMurray , Ryan Newman , Jeff Gordon , Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard , points positions proved crucial. And in the end, proved to be enough. The group collected the final five positions in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup by failing to fail, running well enough to earn the final berths in this year's 16-team field. "It was still stressful, because we had that last restart," Gordon, a four-time champion making his final Chase appearance, said after bringing his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet home seventh in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway . "It was nice not to have to really be sweating it." Gordon needed a finish of 17th or better to clinch. "I know this guy's happy," Gordon said as team owner Rick Hendrick eased up behind his driver to give him a congratulatory hug. "He was sweating it a little bit like the rest of us were. So that feels good to make him happy. This team, they deserve it." Hendrick, who has seen Gordon evolve from a promising young talent into one of the most successful competitors in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, provided a news flash: "Let me be the first to tell you," he said, "he's going to drive another year. He's not doing good enough, so he's got to go one more." Hendrick was kidding. Sort of. GALLERY: 2015 Chase drivers celebrate at Richmond McMurray locked in his first career Chase spot by simply taking the green flag to start the 400-lap event on the .75-mile track. Although he started 31st in the 43-car field, by night's end McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) had raced his way up to 13th. "I'm super relieved," McMurray said. "I've been the guy on the outside trying to fight my way in, and I've also been in this a couple of times and been knocked out at Richmond." Like McMurray, Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) will be making his first Chase appearance when the 10-race playoff begins next week at Chicagoland Speedway . The excitement of qualifying was tempered a bit by a difficult night on the race track -- Menard finished 26th, three laps down to race winner Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). "We had a fast car, it just burned the left-front tire off after like 30, 40 laps and we started going backwards," said Menard. "Try to figure out what happened there." His No. 27 team wasn't the only one to have issues with the left front, he said. But others had no similar problems. "Some guys," he said, "obviously figured it out. "We've had a lot of good runs this year; obviously this wasn't one of them." Bowyer's Chase appearance will be his final showing with Michael Waltrip Racing -- the two-car organization will cease to exist after the '15 season. "I hate to say this but it's actually nice to go into the Chase the way we are; the pressure is off," Bowyer said. "Hell, we were trying to make the Chase, that's big, that's monumental for our organization and our team. "Let's just go have fun, let's get everything we can out of every single weekend and see what happens. Literally, the pressure is off until somehow, some way you're in the thing (for) two rounds or three rounds then all of a sudden the pressure kicks back up. But that's the neat thing about being in our situation, being part of this Chase. Right now, in the next three or four weeks, there is no pressure." Bowyer's status as a Chase participant was the most tenuous -- a slip could have opened the door for someone else to bolt past. His 10th-place finish proved more than enough to accomplish what was required. RELATED: Bowyer wants to end MWR run on a high note "At the beginning we weren't real great," crew chief Billy Scott admitted. "We had to work hard on it. Just stayed calm, it was a long race. After that we just kind of found a place and ran our race. "We were keeping an eye on guys that hadn't won and were running up front, where the guys were that we were racing in points and felt pretty comfortable with getting in on either side of that. "There was no need to gamble. We just ran a pretty conservative race and brought it home in one piece."
Will last season's runner-up find Victory Lane in 2015? RELATED: Full schedule of driver previews Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet Rank in final 2014 standings: Second Wins: 0 Year in photos: Recap Newman's 2014 season Strides: Ryan Newman didn't win a race for the first time in five years but his runner-up finish in the Sprint Cup Series championship was a career highlight. In fact, Newman had fewer top-fives [five] and top-10s  than the previous season yet his consistency and perseverance landed him a shot at the big trophy. He had six top-10s in the 10 Chase races, counting an 18th-place result as his worst finish in that span. A dramatic runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick in the Homestead season finale meant he fell a mere 1-point shy from claiming his first Sprint Cup championship. Setbacks: Newman was NASCAR's poster child for the power of consistency in a season when wins were everything. Still, Newman realizes the necessity for a trip to Victory Lane. His runner-up finish at Homestead was as close as he came to winning in his first year with RCR and the team will need to raise the bar in 2015. Considering what they accomplished without hoisting any hardware, a victory could be the championship difference for the 13-year veteran. Quoteworthy: "It's like caramel corn, I guess. It's a little bit salty and a little bit sweet," -- Newman said of championship runner-up effort in 2014. What's Next: Arguably, Newman went about his championship bid the hard way – relying on consistency and good points days instead of advancing via victory. A numbers guy and with an engineering degree from Purdue University, Newman was able to earn his shot at a title the old-fashioned way -- math. But let's not forget Newman knows how to win and is a former Daytona 500 (2008) and Brickyard 400 (2013) winner; however his lowly 41 laps led in 2014 could be improved upon and the security of an notching an early-season win would go a long way toward easing another championship run. "We all want to win and winning means a lot in a number of facets. … but in the end, the math was there [for us]," Newman said after the season. "I'm happy with what we achieved. I'm disappointed by how close we were but if we were one point, two points or 20 points it wouldn't have mattered. You want to finish first. But we have the ability and the opportunity to try again next year." Certainly good chemistry between Newman and crew chief Luke Lambert contributed to the immediate success in his first year with the team and that bodes well for the future too. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sprint Cup veteran will pilot No. 8 Chevrolet in Toyota Tundra 250 SWM-NEMCO Motorsports announced Tuesday that Ryan Newman will make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start since 2013 for the team this weekend at Kansas Speedway . Newman , a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular, will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for team co-owners Joe Nemechek and Sidney Mauldin in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "As part of the Chevrolet family, we welcome Ryan Newman into SWM-NEMCO Motorsports to drive our No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado," Nemechek said in a release provided by the team. " Ryan has won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series before, and will be able to provide valuable feedback for our team." Newman's last truck start was a third-place finish in the series' inaugural dirt-track race at Eldora Speedway on July 24, 2013. His lone win came in his truck series debut in October 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Newman's No. 8 truck Friday night will carry the logo of Rescue Ranch, a charity organization for humane, environmental and wildlife causes that he founded in 2012 with his wife, Krissie. SWM-NEMCO's No. 8 ranks tied for 19th place in the Camping World Truck Series team owner standings after three races this season. Father Joe Nemechek has driven the truck in two races (Daytona, Atlanta), with his 17-year-old son, John Hunter, taking the reins for the other (Martinsville). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
In the funniest interview of Chase Media Day, Ryan Newman expounds on several important topics including wrist watches, palindromes and the driver quiz.
Pocono incident angers Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman hinted that payback may be coming to AJ Allmendinger after the JTG Daugherty driver sent Newman's No. 31 Chevrolet into the wall on Lap 139 of Sunday's Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 at Pocono Raceway . "It's pretty obvious what happened," said Newman , who was running seventh at the time but finished 39th. "The No. 47 (Allmendinger) just ran out of talent. He has got one coming now." Allmendinger appeared to get loose in Turn 1, and he tapped Newman's left rear bumper to trigger the incident. "The 47 just dove down in there and took your ass out," Newman was told over the radio. "I'm fully aware of the piece of (expletive)," the driver of the No. 31 replied. Allmendinger took the blame for the incident over his scanner. Then, later as the JTG team was assessing the damage, said "I don't even deserve to be in the car right now." Richard Childress Racing , the team for which Newman drives, has a technical alliance with JTG Daugherty as well.
RELATED: Play Fantasy Live now It's all down to this. Championships on the line both on the track and in Fantasy Live. Time to do what it takes to grab the title. Sure, the Championship 4 drivers have plenty on the line this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) but that doesn't mean that there are not other worthwhile plays to fill out your lineup in Fantasy Live. Make sure to set your lineup by using the information below to guide your picks. All stats listed -- place differential, fastest laps run and laps led – are Homestead-Miami Speedway specific and categories used in Fantasy Live scoring. Last week, the data showed that Kevin Harvick was a great play for Phoenix and while he did not win, he did have the most laps led and a runner-up finish. We also recommended Aric Almirola as a sleeper pick and his top 10 proved that to be a solid selection. Good luck this weekend! Laps led, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 560 2. Matt Kenseth , 449 t-3. Jeff Gordon , 237 t-3. Kyle Busch , 237 Fastest laps run, since 2005 1. Carl Edwards , 267 2. Jeff Gordon , 170 3. Martin Truex Jr ., 168 Place differential, 2014 fall race 1. Ryan Newman , +19 2. Cole Whitt , +16 t-3. Danica Patrick , +14 t-3. Jamie McMurray , +14 t-3. Kyle Larson , +14 Sleeper picks Kasey Kahne : Since his first start at Homestead in 2004, Kahne has collected 10 straight top 25s there. He also has back-to-back 13th-or-better finishes in his last two starts. Owning an average finish of 14.9, Kahne has also led 107 laps, has four top 10s and an average running position of 12.6 (eighth-best). The Hendrick Motorsports driver's value is undoubtedly there for his asking price. Ryan Newman : Newman remains a feature sleeper play at Homestead. Over the past three races, the Richard Childress Racing driver is averaging 44.0 fantasy points per race, good for 10th among active NASCAR competitors. Coming off a career-best second-place finish at Homestead in 2014, Newman will be looking to improve that. He has two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts at Miami. Value picks Ty Dillon : Dillon also comes with risk due to his part-time Cup eligibility, so he carries a bit of a gamble. In his four Cup races this season, Dillon has improved in each race by at least two spots with finishes of 28th, 26th, 18th and a season best 14th at Michigan. He owns a season place differential of +7 and an average finish of 21.5. The value is "must have" at Dillon’s asking price for Homestead. Justin Allgaier : Fresh off a 17th-place finish at Phoenix, Allgaier makes a stout value play for Homestead this weekend. In his one career race at Homestead in 2014, he started 14th and finished 15th. The HScott Motorsports driver ranks a remarkable 20th among NASCAR drivers in fantasy points averaged over his last three races with 17.4 per race.