Kyle Busch got the win Saturday, but perhaps no driver helped himself more than Ryan Newman, who cracked the top 12 in points (10th) with his fourth-place finish at Richmond. Forty-three of the 56 drivers who left Richmond in the Chase field have gone on to make the Chase of the Cup. Newman bumped David "The Franchise" Reutimann from the top 12.
After an awful start this season (36th-28th-25th-22nd), Newman has four top tens in the last six races, with a season-best third in Phoenix two weeks ago. Newman, who led in Richmond for 45 laps, said he had the car to compete with Kyle Busch on Saturday.
"We had a winning race car and I think the guy out front typically had a winning race car but the bottom line was we didn't get out front when we needed to," Newman said. "We had the leader strategy but got caught up on that restart behind in the No. 5 car. I turned him around in the accident because we all got jumbled up and I lost four positions.
"We showed that we could lead and we had a car that could race with Kyle (Busch), no doubt."
Teammate/owner Tony Stewart blamed misfortune on Newman's slow start this season.
"I think Ryan would have had the same kind of runs we had the first four races. He just had really weird, bad luck happen, just weird things happen," Stewart said. "After that fourth week was over, we've been basically running the same pace."
Newman has six top-ten finishes at Darlington, home of this weekend's Southern 500.
Here's a video of Newman lobbying for a 125-mile Daytona 500.
And just for fun...