Thursday, January 10, 2019
Ryan Newman moves into the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and that is going to produce great results in 2019.
It has been a while since the iconic No. 6 has had a driver that fit its status. Mark Martin made this car a legend to a generation of fans and it has always been special to the owner Jack Roush. That was a lot of pressure for Trevor Bayne in 2018 and frankly, he did not withstand it.
When Matt Kenseth climbed into the car to evaluate its performance, it took him quite some time to discover what was wrong with the handling. Toward the end of the season he and Bayne improved its results. Bayne got an 11th in one of the last regular season races at Bristol Motor Speedway. The duo combined for back-to-back top-15s at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the fall. Finally, Kenseth scored consecutive top-10s in the final two races of the season.
Newman will join a team that has some momentum for the first time in what must seem like forever. Combine that with the fact that that he has a reputation for being “harder to pass than a kidney stone” and there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful.
It is difficult to handicap Newman much higher than 15th, however, because neither the team nor driver made the playoffs last year. In a season dominated by the Big 3, a racer like Newman should have been able to use consistency to be among the top 16 in points. That simply did not happen.
No one knows what each season will look like, but it seems unlikely that kind of domination will happen again.
Expect more individual winners in 2019 than there were in 2018 – and if that is the situation, it is hard to believe Newman will not be one of the men hoisting a trophy at the end of a race. From 2010 through 2013, he doggedly won one race per season with Stewart-Haas Racing. Since then, he has only one more victory with Richard Childress Racing, but RFR is improving and ready to win.
Newman did not score a single top-five last year. That is going to force cap managers to discount him at the beginning of the season and make him one of the best values in the game.
Three Best Tracks
Darlington (12.1 in 21 attempts)
Richmond (12.6 in 34)
Pocono (13.0 in 34)
Three Worst Tracks
Talladega 19.6 (19.6 in 34)
Daytona (18.95 in 34)
Indianapolis (18.94 in 31)
Victories: None, best finish of sixth at New Hampshire
Top-fives: 0 (.000)
Top-10s: 9 (.250)
Top-15s: 19 (.528)
2018 Finishes at or above their rank? = 19 (52.8%)