In his first season driving Roush-Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford, it wasn’t an assumption Newman would even be in contention for a playoff berth.
While he hasn’t necessarily been in contention to win races, Newman has been solidly consistent, enough to where he is tied with Daniel Suarez for the final playoff spot entering Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“There are a lot of teams that would like to be in our situation. There are a lot of teams better than our situation but there are a lot that would love to be fighting for a playoff berth,” Newman said Saturday.
“We will do what we can to be the best we can and enjoy the race. It is home for me. There is a lot going on. I definitely enjoy it.”
Newman, an Indiana native, has plenty of experience at the Brickyard, including a pole and a victory in the 2013 race.
Newman isn’t planning any special approach to Sunday’s race but even if the No. 6 team ends up missing the cut for the playoffs, he wants to see his new continue to progress the remainder of the season.
“We have talked about it a little bit personally but our team is so new. It is newer than I have ever experienced. That is huge,” he said. “With all the changes we had in our sport in the offseason, I think it was underestimated by me and a huge change to tackle.
“I feel like we have done a good job, we just need to continue to progress to make our cars go faster. I think we have had some good strategy and pit stops and good moves on the race track – all those types of things.
“Good things need to turn into great things and keep progressing as a team. Those experiences will hopefully build a notebook that we can carry into next year and be more successful.”
A practical approach
Still, Newman said his experience also teaches him that a team is not likely to suddenly excel in one race just because it needs to.
So, he is taking a practical approach to Sunday’s race.
“To me, this is no different than when the green flag dropped for the Daytona 500. You have just as many opportunities and points to gain as you do to lose and it is the same for everybody,” he said.
“You can’t try to make up for in one race what you didn’t accomplish in the first 25.”