SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Oct. 5, 2010) – The third time’s a charm.
At least Ryan Newman hopes that theory holds true when it comes to his third NASCAR Nationwide Series start in the CampingWorld.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Saturday.
For Newman, it wouldn’t be the first time that a third start has been lucky.
Earlier this season at Phoenix International Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Newman won in dramatic fashion with the bright, vibrant colors of sponsor Tornados adorning his No. 39 Chevrolet – his third start for the bold rolled snack brand.
That night, it was a gutsy pit call on the final caution of the race that put Newman in position to capture the win. He took the lead from four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon on the final restart of the race and held onto the top spot for the final two circuits around the mile oval to score his first win driving for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
So far this season in Nationwide Series action, Newman has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. On Saturday, Newman will pilot the No. 1 El Monterey Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing for his third-ever Nationwide Series start at Auto Club Speedway.
In two previous starts in NASCAR’s second-tier series at the 2-mile oval, Newman’s best effort was a runner-up finish, which occurred during his first start at the speedway in 2006. In that race, Newman started on the outside pole and led 15 laps before finishing in the second spot.
The South Bend, Ind., native hopes to improve upon that effort this weekend as sponsor El Monterey makes its debut in NASCAR. El Monterey, the No. 1 frozen Mexican food brand in the country, is kicking off its 25th anniversary celebration with its sponsorship of Newman’s No. 1 Chevrolet.
While this will be the sponsor’s first foray on the racetrack, the brand is no stranger to Newman. The El Monterey brand is owned by Ruiz Foods – the same family owned Dinuba, Calif.-based company that owns Tornados, Newman’s sponsor for the No. 39 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series.
Start number three was lucky for sponsor Tornados earlier this season and Newman hopes that the same luck will prevail when the No. 1 El Monterey Chevrolet takes the green flag Saturday for Newman’s third Nationwide Series race at California. Just maybe, the third race will be a charm.
Ryan Newman, No. 1 El Monterey NASCAR Nationwide Series Chevrolet Impala:
Another brand of Ruiz Foods – El Monterey – has come on board with you and the No. 1 Phoenix Chevrolet this weekend at California. Talk about the relationship you have with Ruiz Foods and its brands – Tornados and El Monterey – and how important it is to you to have the company’s support this week at Auto Club Speedway, which is also its home track.
"I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Not only do we have the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup race this weekend, but El Monterey has also come on board with the No. 1 Phoenix Racing team for this weekend. El Monterey is celebrating 25 years of business, and it’s the No. 1 frozen Mexican food brand in the United States. So, needless to say, the El Monterey brand is used to being up front. And, believe me, I really want to put them at the front of the field in California on Saturday afternoon. I think one of the really cool things about this weekend is that California is really a home track for Ruiz Foods, so they are bringing a lot of their team members and family out to the racetrack to support us on Saturday and Sunday. I really want to make everyone proud of their sponsorship and have good solid runs in both of the cars this weekend.
"I’m really proud to have Ruiz Foods and both of their brands as a partner for both myself and Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s been a lot of fun working with Tornados this season. They took a big chance on NASCAR, on SHR and on me. They had never been in the sport, and they wanted to do something big to bring attention to their Tornados brand. To think about how big of a chance they took, it’s pretty amazing. I’ve had a lot of fun introducing them to the sport and working with them. Their family has become more than just a sponsor – they are part of the SHR team and our family. I’m really honored that this weekend they decided to put their El Monterey brand on the racetrack with me and the No. 1 Phoenix Racing Chevy. You know, the 39 team got our first win as a team back in the spring at Phoenix and Tornados was on board with us that weekend. So, obviously, it’s been a successful partnership on that front, and we want to continue that. We’re really looking forward to going back out West, and maybe if we cross the Mississippi, we’ll get back to victory lane again."
So far this season, you have run 10 races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Phoenix Racing and have a best finish of second. Talk about your season so far in the Nationwide Series.
"I’ve really had a lot of fun working with Phoenix Racing this year and driving their car in the Nationwide Series. We’ve had several good runs, and then we kind of had a string of races where bad luck had really bitten us. I’m hoping we got that turned back around after our 10th-place finish a couple of weeks ago at Dover. People always ask me what I gain from competing in the Nationwide races, and the truth is simply that I’m a driver, and I want to race every chance I get. I’m grateful that James Finch and everyone at Phoenix Racing have given me that chance this season. There are some similarities between the Nationwide car and the Cup car that might help me on Sunday, but for me, I just like having the extra seat time. I like being behind the wheel, and the competition. This year in the Nationwide Series, we’ve really had to battle for every spot we’ve gotten on the track, and I don’t expect that to be any different this weekend at California. I have a couple more races left with them this season and I would really like for us to end on a high note. With California being such a big weekend for my sponsors, I think this would be the perfect place to have another solid finish."
What does it take to win at Auto Club Speedway?
"I’m not so sure I’m the best person to answer that question because I have been very honest in the past in saying that Auto Club Speedway isn’t one of my favorite places to race. However, that being said, I think the racing has gotten better with age, and I think it has gotten a lot better there over the past couple of years. Although it’s not a favorite for me, the racetrack can be a lot of fun because it’s a very smooth track and super fast. I just haven’t done all that well there throughout my career. The track lends itself to good racing because it is such a wide track with plenty of room for passing. There’s three- and four-wide racing in the corners. You can normally expect long, green-flag runs, which means it can be a fuel-mileage race. So strategy can be key, which could make for an interesting day on Saturday."