DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As Ryan Newman embarked on a nine-week run, "the Chase to the Chase", to qualify for NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup 10-race playoffs last weekend, he conceded that his strategy and urgency will naturally evolve under circumstances.
And in just one race -- the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night -- Newman's 10th place effort (his eighth top-10 of the year) in the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevy moved him up two positions in the Sprint Cup Series standings to 16th. Heading into Sunday's race in New Hampshire, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver now sits only 17 points out of a guaranteed top-10 position with eight races left to earn a berth into NASCAR's version of the postseason.
Last Friday, just after qualifying at Daytona, Newman spent time at the track's Oral-B "Built in the USA" stage to address an enthusiastic crowd and recognize his -- and Oral-B's -- new partnership with Hope for the Warriors, a non-profit that helps post-Sept. 11 service members get back into the civilian workforce.
After speaking to the crowd, the 2008 Daytona 500 winner signed autographs for the servicemen and women as Oral-B gave out merchandise.
And these fans were obviously very encouraged by what Newman had to say about his chances of making his fifth Chase for Sprint Cup championship run.
Here's what Newman told NASCAR.com:
*On the challenges of restrictor plate races playing a role in the Chase field:
"I am at the mercy of so many other people instead of my own to start this Chase for the Chase. They say it's a crapshoot. It's a little less than that. (smiling.)
"It's my job to keep the fenders clean and put us in the position so at the end of the race we have a chance. We had some damage at the car at Daytona 500 and were still able to get a top-five, which is a start, but we're here to win.
"The way you race great here at Daytona and Talladega is to race smart. Of course, you also have to be lucky so if we can be one or two of those things we'll be in good shape.''
*On how he looks at the points standings at this point:
"Top-20 (in the standings) means nothing to me at this point. I'm not racing Kasey (Kahne) or Tony (Stewart) or anyone else. You look at (Brad) Keselowski right now and he's on the bubble. Everyone's going for a win and we're going for a win regardless whether it's the Daytona 500, the Coke Zero 400, whatever it is. We're all here to win and the byproduct of a win is a Chase berth and that is very important, that's part of our goal this year.
*On strategy with eight races to set the Chase field:
"Nothing changes strategy-wise. Nothing changes risk-wise. There's still too much racing to go. If you get to Bristol, Tenn. (Aug. 24) or Richmond, Va. (Sept. 7) then you can start talking about a little more risk or strategy. But you have to put yourself in position and there's still 400 points available between now and Richmond.
There is no more sense of urgency now than there was going into the Daytona 500. I say that from my perspective. We can't make winning a race happen. We have to put the work in and the effort in. You can't just roll the Magic-8 ball and say we're going to win today. That's not the way it happens and I really believe that some people think that.''
*On his chances at the eight remaining tracks:
"You can look at the stats and odds and figure out where you have a better advantage to win. I look forward to going back to Pocono (Aug. 4) because we finished in the top-five there. I look forward to going back to other places, like Richmond and Bristol. We can run good there too. It doesn't mean we're going to. We won at Martinsville (Va.) last year we didn't win it this spring. We blew a right front tire and got a DNF.
"We just have to perform and if we perform, everything will take care of itself. That's the bottom line. One win and being 19th in points isn't going to cut it. That means you performed in one race and we have to perform in all nine races (leading into the Chase)."
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