LAS VEGAS â Although Ryan Newman narrowly clawed his way into the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, he says making a deep run in the 10-race stretch is possible.
And why not? Heâs done it before.
In 2014, Newman raced the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing entry into the Championship 4 following a last-ditch effort in the seasonâs penultimate race at ISM Raceway. He nearly completed the underdog story with his first title, falling just short of Kevin Harvick at Homestead by finishing second in the standings.
This time around, itâs a more daunting task for the No. 16 seed, but not impossible.
âWeâve proved that we know how to fight,â Newman said during NASCAR Playoffs Media Day at the South Point Hotel and Casino on Thursday. âWeâve proved that we can point our way in. Itâs going to be harder and harder to do that and the math is different than it was in 2014. To me, we need to go out there and step up our performance and still have a level of consistency.â
While that consistency is what landed him in the playoffs in the first place, itâs the unpredictability of the postseason where Newman might have the moxie to thrive.
âI think it takes a pretty stubborn individual to thrive in unpredictability,â Newman said. âI guess maybe I fit that criteria. Itâs so situational because if something happens in the first race and then you see a little retaliation or payback or people start driving differently because theyâre desperate. That desperation is something you just canât predict.â
Aside from the confidence Newman has in his team, he also noted that the math works out for him to advance through the first round, at the very least. Through the seasonâs first 13 races, Newman had an 18th-place points car, while the second half of the regular season saw him rise to a 12th-place points car.
âWe have to step that up again another four, six spots or whatever, but we have to do it in a three-race stretch,â Newman said. âThatâs good enough, but I donât want to be just good enough, I want to show progression. That shows that we can keep our feet on each rung of the ladder as we work our way up.â
If Newman can produce strong runs in the first three playoff races at Las Vegas, Richmond and the Charlotte Roval, a replication of 2014 could happen â but the road will be long.
Good thing heâs traveled down the same path before.
âItâs interesting because to me the hardest round is the first round, especially when youâre in my position where youâre the last man in and have zero points to your advantage,â he added. âBasically, I think weâre 11 points out of eighth, which is just a number, but thatâs a little bit of a stage in one race. Itâs all easily doable.â