For Acronis partner team Roush Fenway Racing, there was more to celebrate during the final race of the season at Indianapolis as Ryan Newman squeezed into the 2019 NASCAR Cup playoffs by finishing eighth after a dramatic race.
Somewhat surprisingly, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in his career, although the bigger picture is that the NASCAR legend escaped unscathed after slamming into the wall on lap 105 of the 160-lap race won in dominant style by Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick.
Before the start of the race, Newman was level on points with Daniel Suarez. But with Suarez ending just three places lower than Newman in 11th, it was the Roush Fenway man who grabbed that all-important spot as Suarez joined Johnson in missing out.
Ryan Newman takes a lot of pride in getting the No. 6 car back to the playoffs.
He likes his race speed but says they need to unload better. pic.twitter.com/5Kp0u9l9Sd
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) September 8, 2019
“Today is another stepping stone, and no matter what everybody else does, we are focused on ourselves,” said Newman afterward. “We have three races to prove that we know this is no spoof. We finished 8th today and the other guys ran out of talent and were losing control of their cars all by themselves, so we’ve got to take these next three races to the best of our abilities and go on.”
Clearly, Johnson was not one of those drivers Newman was referring to who ‘ran out of talent’ having run in the top ten for most of the day before being pitched into a spin by team-mate William Byron at Turn 2, igniting a multi-car wreck.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 8, 2019
Despite the obvious pleasure gained from making the playoffs, Newman remains cautious about what can be achieve in the final three races
“Speed wise at the end of the race, we seem to be there but raw speed we’re not. We can’t come here and qualify 22nd and expect to run in the top five all day long. That’s just the facts of it, so we’ve got some work to do and we’re still learning.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 9, 2019