There is nothing quite like “Rocket Man.” From blistering qualifying runs to Roger Penske’s first Daytona 500 win, Ryan Newman has been at the center of some incredible moments during his storied career.
5. 2001 Coca Cola 600 (First Career Pole)
Newman was just a rookie finding his way heading into the 2001 Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his third Cup Series start. Driving the 02 car for Roger Penske, Newman gave everyone there a glimpse into the future.
A blistering 185.217 mph lap gave Newman the first of his 51 career poles, one that nobody expected despite a 10th place start in his first career race at Phoenix the year prior. The race did not end quite like Newman hoped it would, but this was the start of something special. From 2002-2005, Newman averaged 8.5 poles per season.
4. 2002 New Hampshire 300 (First Career Win)
Newman started off the fall New Hampshire weekend in 2002 with the third of six poles that season. He would go on to dominate the race, leading 143 laps.
With rain moving in, NASCAR put out the caution at lap 199, and Newman held off a hard-charging Kurt Busch for the win in the shortened 207 lap event. Yes a rain-shortened win, but one well earned with the dominance of the day.
3. 2013 Brickyard 400 (Indiana Native Wins from the Pole)
The South Bend native who undoubtedly dreamed of winning at Indy lived is dream in spectacular fashion. Newman won the pole with a 187.531 mph lap sitting on the front row with four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson.
After Newman led the first 29 laps, it was Johnson who dominated the day leading 75 laps. However, a gutsy two-tire final pit stop under green plus a bad pit stop from Johnson gave Newman his 17th career win.
2. 2014 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (Newman Bumps Larson to Get Into the Championship 4)
As the final laps clicked away at Phoenix in the fall of 2014, the stakes for Newman were simple. He had to gain one spot to get to the Championship 4, or be left out. Newman would not be denied.
As Kevin Harvick crossed the line to take the win, Newman dive-bombed his way into the final corner underneath Kyle Larson sending Larson into the wall. Newman would cross the line in 11th, just enough to sneak his way in as the fourth and final driver in the inaugural Championship 4.
1. 2008 Daytona 500 (Newman Gives The Captain His First Daytona 500)
On the final restart of the 2008 Daytona 500, Newman, who had lost the lead a few laps prior, lined up fourth. He would push his future boss, Tony Stewart to the lead, hanging in second until the final lap.
With his teammate Kurt Busch pushing him, Newman got past Stewart down the backstretch on the last lap. Newman would never relinquish the lead, giving him his Daytona 500 win. It was not only Penske’s first Daytona 500 win, but his first one-two finish and Newman’s first win in 81 races.
Newman hopes there are more good moments to come with his return to the Cup Series with Rick Ware Racing. What else awaits Newman in his return to the Cup Series?