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Auto Racing: Ryan Newman the new man in the Chase for the Cup

Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (right) is hugged by team owner driver Tony Stewart after Newman wBrickyard 400 aurace

Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman (right) is hugged by team owner and driver Tony Stewart after Newman won the Brickyard 400 auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28.| AP Photo~Darron Cummings

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NASCAR TRIPLEHEADER WEEKEND

Where: Chicagoland Speedway,
Laraway Road and Route 53, Joliet

When: Friday through Sunday

FRIDAY

Parking lots open, 7 a.m.

EnjoyIllinois.com 225 (Camping World Truck Series) practice,
9-10:30 a.m.

EnjoyIllinois.com 225 final
practice, 11-11:50 a.m.

GEICO 400 (Sprint Cup Series) practice, noon-1:30

Dollar General 300 (Nationwide Series) practice, 1:40-2:55

EnjoyIllinois.com 225 qualifying, 3:05

GEICO 400 qualifying, 4:10 (ESPN2)

Dollar General 300 final practice, 5:35-6:50

EnjoyIllinois.com 225, 7:30
(Fox Sports1)

Fireworks, post-race

SATURDAY

Parking lots open, 7 a.m.

GEICO 400 practice, 10-10:55 a.m.

Dollar General 300 qualifying, 11:05 (Fox Sports2)

GEICO 400 final practice, 1-1:50 (Fox Sports2)

Dollar General 300, 2:30 (ESPN2)

SUNDAY

Early bird parking opens, 6 a.m.

Other parking opens, 7 a.m.

Grandstands open, 9 a.m.

Brantley Gilbert pre-race concert, 11:10 a.m.

GEICO 400 driver introductions, 12:20

GEICO 400, 1 (ESPN, 95.9 FM,
98.3 FM)

Tickets: Call (888) 629-RACE (7223). Parking is free.

NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth is the first Chase-eligible driver coming to town Wednesday, when he will tour Chicago landmarks like Willis Tower and Millennium Park.

But as NASCAR and Kenseth prepare for Sunday’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the talk won’t center around Kenseth’s chances for winning the second championship of his career or if Jimmie Johnson is going to win a sixth Cup.

It’s going to be about how Martin Truex Jr. is out of the Chase and Ryan Newman is in, and how three Chase drivers are racing with their respective teams for the last time before heading elsewhere in 2014.

Newman is in the Chase because NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer on Monday.

All three were docked 50 points in the Cup standings.

That pushed Truex down to 17th in the point standings and out of wild card contention, and Newman was able to move up in the point standings to get that last wild card spot.

MWR was also fined $300,000, executive vice president/general manager/spotter Ty Norris is suspended indefinitely and the organization is docked 50 more points in the owner’s championship standings.

NASCAR president Michael Helton said MWR drivers manipulated the outcome of Saturday’s race at Richmond so Truex would make the Chase as a wild card and Newman would not. Helton said the monetary fine is the largest in NASCAR’s history.

“I am proud that NASCAR took a stand with respect to what went on Saturday night at Richmond,” Newman said in a statement. “I know it was a tough decision to make. With that being said, myself, (crew chief) Matt Borland and this entire No. 39 team are looking forward to competing for the championship.”

But earlier Monday, Newman had good news when he announced that he will race for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in 2014, driving the No. 31 car.

In July, Newman was told his contract at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was not being renewed because the organization was going to sign Kevin Harvick — who announced he was leaving RCR for Stewart-Haas.

Newman said Childress approached him initially in February at the Daytona 500 about coming over to RCR, but Newman wasn’t sure about leaving SHR yet.

“It was too early to even think about that, but I appreciated the offer,” Newman said. “Our conversations matured over time. After Loudon (N.H.), when I was told (by SHR) what I wasn’t going to be doing, the conversations intensified.”

Newman isn’t the only Chase driver who is on his last hurrah with his current team.

Harvick, who enters the GEICO 400 fourth in the point standings, is headed to SHR along with Kurt Busch (10th).

Harvick and Busch will give SHR four teams next year, joining Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.

So Newman went from being the odd man out at SHR to landing a job with Childress, one of the sport’s stalwarts, and he went from being out of the Chase to in the hunt for a championship. But that may not erase the hurt of what happened at Richmond.

“To me, what happened Saturday night is the toughest thing that I’ve ever gone through in any kind of racing in my 30 years of driving,” Newman said. “It was because of the way everything went down and, in hindsight, how it hurt that much more.”



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