In his return to the track – and NASCAR’s return to action – Ryan Newman turned in a gutty performance, recovering from a late spin to drive his No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford to a 15th-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at the famed Darlington Raceway.
“Really proud of everybody’s effort today to unload the Oscar Mayer Ford as good as we did,” Newman said following the race. “We started pretty strong and for the first 180 laps or so we were really good, then we got the car too free and we needed it to turn better, but we never got the front to work and made the back loose. Overall, great to be back in the racecar, proud of how everybody worked, not just our team, but everyone in NASCAR to break the ice on getting the world back in motion.”
Newman – making his return since the Daytona 500 – powered his way into the top-10 by the end of stage one, finishing ninth to earn valuable stage points. He maintained the top-15 position throughout much of stage two before the car’s handling went away late and a cut tire caused the car to spin out and ending the team’s bid for a top 10.
A random draw determined the starting lineup for #TheRealHeroes400, as drivers were grouped into their respective positions by points, with a draw for each spot from there. With the No. 6 20th in owners’ points, Newman rolled off 21st after the random draw.
Newman reported he was tight 30 laps in when the competition caution flew, in which teams were allowed two pit stops with no change in position. Crew chief Scott Graves and the team made a series of adjusting on the Oscar Mayer machine, setting him back up 15th for the restart.
From there, the South Bend, Indiana, native wasted no time charging his way forward, entering the top-10 less than 20 laps later before finishing the stage in ninth. He was caught speeding on pit road under the stage break, setting him back to the rear for the ensuing restart.
After restarting 27th, Newman again worked his way back up to 15th by lap 123, reporting the car felt good as stage two cycled through. A series of yellows flew from lap 124-172 in which he worked his way up to ninth, before crossing the line 15th for the second stage.
From there the handling went away, as he lacked grip with 90 to go. With 41 to go, Newman was running 17th when the right rear tire went down, sending his Oscar Mayer Ford for a spin to bring out the yellow. After a pit stop for fresh tires and cosmetic repairs, Newman restarted 25th with 34 laps left, but battled his way back to 15th by the checkered flag.
The No. 6 team returns to Darlington Raceway for the second race in four days Wednesday night for a primetime race under the lights (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90). The starting lineup for Wednesday’s 228-lap race will be set by a random draw for positions 1-20, meaning Newman will roll off sixth in his Oscar Mayer Ford.