Desert delivers again as Ryan Newman latest to bust drought at Phoenix

Photo courtesy of NASCAR/Getty Images

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

When it comes to busting droughts, the desert usually comes through.

And it did for Ryan Newman on Sunday as the Richard Childress Racing driver gambled on old tires with two laps to go at Phoenix Raceway to halt his personal winless skid at 127 races.

The veteran driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet hadn’t been in Victory Lane since July 28, 2013 in Indianapolis, while with Stewart-Haas Racing.

“I said that when I won the Brickyard.  I said that when I won at Daytona.  This has been the longest drought I’ve ever been in.”

Newman heeded to crew chief Luke Lambert’s call to stay out on worn tires during the last caution, which came when polesitter Joey Logano blew a tire and ended up in the wall. The leaders all pitted.

“It’s sweet for so many reasons,” said Newman after his 18th victory in 552 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.

Lambert, a six-year Cup crew chief, won for the first time at this level.

“I think this is something that, as a competitor, I have wanted to be a part of for so long, it’s a bit overwhelming,” Lambert said. “I knew it would mean a lot.  I knew it would be overwhelming.  Every race that has gone by that we haven’t been able to win has ultimately made that hunger for victory a little bit more.”

Richard Childress Racing was saddled with a 112-race winless drought of its own. The team’s last win came courtesy of Kevin Harvick on Nov. 10, 2013, also at Phoenix, just before Harvick bolted for SHR. Childress said his return to the shop in North Carolina will be delayed, but plans to reach the team on the horn.

“I’m going to send them a WaxMail, because I still have business in California I got to do,” the owner said.  “They will hear a lot from me tomorrow morning.  Get on the speaker, tell everybody how proud I am.”

Prior to Newman and company ending their drought, Carl Edwards was the most recent driver to get back on track with a trip to the desert. The former Joe Gibbs driver halted a 70-race slide in 2013. In 2010, Phoenix also came to Edwards’ rescue as he entered the weekend in a similar bind.

Edwards’ former JGR teammate Denny Hamlin returned to his winning ways at Phoenix in 2012.

Jeff Gordon also ended a 68-race winless drought there in 2011.

This Sunday was Newman’s turn to get back in winner’s circle. Welcome back, Newman.

“Yeah I haven’t gotten here since they started giving these (stickers) out, so I’m just proud of these guys,” said Newman, who worked his way to the front after starting 22nd.

“It’s just a hard‑fought race, a hard‑fought battle, a hard‑fought four years.”

 

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