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.
Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman get into a heated discussion last year at Michigan International Speedway after contact in the Pure Michigan 400.
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid " Driver standings We hope you enjoyed some rest and relaxation during the off week for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. Because starting this week things are about to get real -- real fast. With just two races remaining until the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set, there are still some spots up for grabs. Ten drivers are locked into postseason berths, but that means six openings are still available -- five if you're penciling in Kyle Busch , who has four 2015 wins but is 29th in points. Of the winless drivers who'd be in the Chase if it started today ( Jamie McMurray , Ryan Newman Paul Menard , Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer ), which one is most likely to lose his spot? Conversely, of the drivers currently outside the top 16, who is most likely to win their way into the postseason party? NASCAR.com editors George Winkler and Maggie MacKenzie are here to give their opinions. Check out their take, then vote in our poll and let us know your view in the comments section below. Winkler: Hey Maggie, hopefully the pressure won't get to you like it might get to some of these drivers. These are tense times indeed. One driver I'm skeptical about making the Chase is Paul Menard . Despite his heartwarming hometown win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America , Menard has visited Victory Lane only once in his Sprint Cup Series career. Qualifying for the Chase based on points is a dangerous way to live, especially when you consider Menard is just plus-19 points from the cutoff line. Throw in the fact Menard hasn't had much success at Darlington or Richmond (one top-10 finish in 25 races combined) and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fall out of contention. MacKenzie: George, looks like we, once again, find ourselves in a head to head debate . You're right, tense times are upon us with the Chase looming in the near future and drivers are scrambling in last chance efforts to earn a coveted Chase berth. The clock is certainly ticking and I'm starting to feel the pressure -- are you? You've got a valid point about Menard and although I do think it is likely for him to fall out of the top 16, I'm going to have to pick a different driver. I think Clint Bowyer will be losing his spot before Menard does. Bowyer currently sits in the last spot on the grid, 17 points behind Jeff Gordon in the 15th position. Bowyer's safest bet for securing a spot in the Chase would be with a win since getting points is clearly not his forte this season. Unfortunately, the odds are against the driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota as he hasn't visited Victory Lane since 2012 at Charlotte. Winkler: There's no clear choice outside of the top 16 for a driver making it into the Chase. It's going to take a special day and a pressure-packed win for any of them to get the job done. Kasey Kahne came through with the equivalent of a ninth-inning home run last year when he qualified for the Chase with a win at Atlanta in the second-to-last race of the 2014 regular season, and he could be the one to do it again. RELATED: Kahne proves bubble driver can make Chase Even though there's no reason to look at his recent performances and feel confident about the pick, there are some silver linings. He finished sixth at Richmond earlier this season, and he has a driver rating of 104.00 in the past five years at Darlington. MacKenzie: Ah, I like where you are going with this one, George. Although I don't think any driver outside of the grid has a great chance of entering the top 16, I, too, think Kahne could go for the repeat and get himself a last-minute win. And how great of a story would that make? The Hendrick Motorsports driver has been pretty vocal about how disappointing the past few races have been for him and he knows he needs a win . He has proven that he can work well under pressure after last year's Atlanta win so I say that if there is any driver who can snag a last-minute victory, it would be Kahne. MORE: Kahne knows he must win to earn Chase berth
Both drivers docked 15 minutes of on-track practice time The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams of Germain Racing with Casey Mears and Richard Childress Racing with Ryan Newman will serve 15-minute penalties during this weekend’s opening practice at Pocono (Pennsylvania) Raceway, according to NASCAR officials. The two teams received written warnings during this past weekend’s race activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard. The warning for the No. 13 team of Mears was a result of qualifying inspection issues while Newman ’s group required additional trips through the inspection line during pre-race inspection. Opening practice at Pocono is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. ET. NASCAR began the process of issuing written warnings earlier this year to teams that failed to pass pre-qualifying or pre-race technical inspection twice during an event. Such warnings are part of the sanctioning body’s Deterrence Policy, which categorizes individual infractions (Level 1 through Level 6) for penalty purposes. Two written warnings during one event or a single warning during two consecutive events is considered a P1 level infraction. Penalties may include a deduction in track time for practice or qualifying, delay in the order of inspection or last choice in the pit selection process. Officials also said that post-race technical inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center for the cars of race winner Kyle Busch , runner-up Joey Logano and Kyle Larson (random) had been completed with no issues. Pocono is hosting the Windows 10 400 on Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Photo credit -- Chase Elliott 's Instagram @chaseelliott9 RELATED: Series standings At only 19 years old, Chase Elliott already has a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, is currently contending for a second one and has a pretty sweet job lined up next year taking over the iconic No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for retiring four-time Sprint Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon . Not only has Elliott's racing career taken off, he has too -- literally -- having just earned his private pilot license on July 23. And the view from above is something he's wanted his whole life. It seems Elliott got more than the racing gene from his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott , as he has inherited the flying bug from his dad, an accomplished and avid aviator. "He's been flying a long time so I've always been around it since I was little," Elliott said of his father. "I've watched him fly for years and years and been fortunate enough to have access to his planes and sit up front and watch him fly them so I've always definitely interested in it. "It's one of those things where the more you do it, the more you become interested in it. And the more you get into it, the more intriguing it becomes. I learn something new every time I fly. "It's definitely tough to (master all the necessary lessons). A lot of things come along with it. But flying is a privilege and something you can't take lightly ever." A lot of the same traits -- discipline, smarts and dedication -- Elliott put into his burgeoning racing career he used to earn the pilot license. He actually started taking lessons while still in high school but it was such a busy time between school, racing and flying lessons that Elliott put off finishing his license until a few months ago with the support of his dad. "It's something you work hard for to achieve," Bill Elliott said. "I see so many people who have gone through a lot of the flying part and the learning curve but never went on and got their pilot licenses and they always regretted it. I told Chase, 'You need to go on and get this done.' "I'm glad he did. That's something he'll carry with him regardless of where racing takes him." The Elliotts join an impressive list of NASCAR drivers who have secured private pilot licenses including Carl Edwards , Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth and retired drivers Mark Martin , Rusty Wallace, Cale Yarborough and Ricky Rudd. Ryan Newman 's wife Krissie flies helicopters. Similarly, Elliott figures having the ability to pilot an airplane can be as much a practicality as it is a luxury. His father helped secure him a Cessna 182 single-engine, four-seater to use and Elliott is eager to start flying to races closer than home. Last week, he flew to Bristol. He has also posted a photo of himself practicing grass landings on Instagram. "Absolutely, it's a major convenience if you need to go somewhere, you can turn a four-hour drive into an hour-and-a-half flight," Elliott said. "Time is valuable for anybody and any chance to make up time like that is great." Elliott wasn't sure if he would fly himself to this weekend's XFINITY Series race at Road America , but he is looking forward to the stand-alone road race regardless. It's the third road course race in the last four weeks for the series and Elliott is one of the series regulars who embraces the opportunity to turn right. He is on a six-race run of top-10 finishes in his No. 9 NAPA Chevy and currently trails championship leader Chris Buescher by 23 points in the standings. He has finishes of seventh (Watkins Glen) and fifth (Mid-Ohio) in the two road races this year and finished fourth at Road America last season. "I thought last year was a good learning experience," Elliott said. "I was really pleased with Watkins Glen. I'm still learning on my end, but thought we had good cars this year and that's a big step in right direction." For Elliott, that direction is up.
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
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.
See what the No. 31 Chevrolet will look like Labor Day weekend RELATED: Buy tickets for Darlington " Buy the die-cast This year's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sept. 6, 7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) will have a throwback feel to it with the track hosting the event again on Labor Day weekend. And teams are going with that throwback theme in their paint schemes. Richard Childress Racing was the latest to reveal its throwback look with Ryan Newman 's No. 31 Chevrolet for that weekend. Throwback @CaterpillarInc @TeamChevy never looked so good. @TooToughToTame @RyanJNewman #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/M0bDpHFPgI — RCR 31 Cup Team (@RCR31RNewman) July 8, 2015 Newman will be looking for his first win at Darlington. He has seven top fives and 11 top 10s in 16 starts there.
AJ Allmendinger gets into Ryan Newman in Turn 1, sending the No. 31 hard into the wall.
Driver of the No. 31 glad NASCAR did its 'due diligence' RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ryan Newman admitted to being worried about a possible penalty when his car was ruled too low in the rear on both sides in post-race inspection following Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . "I was worried because you never know what could happen," Newman said during the Eliminator Round Media Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "I was happy with the fact that NASCAR took the time to take the car back to the Tech Center, do everything and analyze everything." On Tuesday, NASCAR ruled that Newman had cleared post-race inspection after deeming that race damage caused the No. 31 car to be too low in the rear. UPDATE: The No. 31 car has cleared post-race inspection from Talladega; there are no issues. Race damage caused the rear to be low. #NASCAR — NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) October 21, 2014 "There's so many different perspectives there because they give us the rear springs, they give us the shocks," Newman said. "It's not our stuff that we have at every other racetrack. In the end, they saw that the damage from being hit from behind was enough to knock the back of the car down enough to take it out of its window. "I didn't know if there was going to be a penalty. I didn't know what that penalty was going to be. I was confident it wasn't going to be more than 27 points because that would be the biggest penalty for that type of penalty ever that I can imagine or have heard of. But in the end, you never know. I was happy that they did their due diligence in conjunction with working with our team that they understood everything." Newman thought the damage came from being slammed from behind on the last restart. "I think it was the 20 that actually drilled me really hard and it actually wrinkled the quarter panel, which shows that the body's moving," Newman said. "I never looked at the car after the race. I didn't expect there to be any issues, so I didn't analyze exactly what happened. In talking to Luke (Lambert, Newman's crew chief) he said the quarter panels were wrinkled on it, which shows that the clip had moved a little a bit and the body moved a little bit as well." Newman comes into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in third place in the points standings and with four straight top-10 finishes. And the fact that he is quietly lurking hasn't gone unnoticed by his fellow drivers. " Ryan Newman is kind of quiet and has the ability to really sneak up unnoticed and gobble this thing up," 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski said when asked to handicap the Eliminator Round field. Looking forward, Newman has a win at each of the three Eliminator Round tracks: Martinsville Speedway , Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. Yet, Newman doesn't see one track that he is better at than the others. In the first go-round at these tracks this year, Newman finished seventh at Phoenix , 16th at Texas and 20th at Martinsville. He sees the return trip as the best chance for his No. 31 team, which is in its first year together with Richard Childress Racing , to show its stuff. "We're coming back to some of these racetracks for the second time together. Having new rules this year and a new team, we couldn't go back and say, 'This is what we did last year, let's try to make the car drive like this.' We're starting from ground zero so to speak and this is our first opportunity to work on the second floor as we go on around to these second races. "We'll just keep digging. Don't really care what other people think of if we should be here, if we shouldn't be. The fact is we are here and we have the ability to go out and have some fun and make the best of it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation