Ryan Newman won’t let last year’s Daytona 500 crash define him


Ryan Newman understands that some view him only as the driver who survived a horrifying crash at the end of last year’s Daytona 500 and not what he has accomplished in NASCAR.

“You don’t become the most Googled person because I won races,” Newman told NBC Sports. “I became the most Googled person in the year because of what I experienced in that crash and that’s part of today’s society.”

Newman ranked No. 1 among athletes in top-trending searches on Google in 2020 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was No. 2 and Bubba Wallace was No. 3). Newman ranked No. 5 among people in top-trending searches. President Joe Biden was No. 1 in that category.

MORE: “A better person” after Daytona crash, Ryan Newman becomes organ donation spokesman

Newman was headed toward victory in last February’s Daytona 500 when everything changed seconds from the finish line. Newman led and blocked Ryan Blaney. A bump from Blaney’s car sent Newman’s car into the wall. The impact turned Newman’s car upside down and it was launched by Corey LaJoie’s car.

Rescue workers needed about 15 minutes to extricate Newman from the car. He spent two days in a Daytona hospital for what he called a brain bruise before walking out with his two daughters.

Had Newman won that race, he would have been the 12th driver to have scored multiple Daytona 500 victories.

Newman won the 50th Daytona 500 in 2008. That is one of 18 Cup victories he has in a career that includes 51 poles — garnering him the nickname “Rocketman” — and Rookie of the Year honors in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson for that honor.

Missing for Newman is a Cup championship. He finished second in points in 2014 in the inaugural year of the championship race format. 

The 43-year-old enters his 20th Cup season in the last year of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing. He doesn’t plan on this being his last chance to win that title. He’s one of several driver entering the final season of their contract.

“The reality is any driver that goes out on their own terms has quit, right?” Newman said. “That’s the only way it works. So I’m not quitter. I haven’t achieved my goal ,so the only way I would go out on somebody else’s terms is if they quit me. That’s not good teamwork.

“I’ve got to put myself in position with the right people that have a common goal of winning races and eventually winning a championship. I know that I’m at that place. That doesn’t mean I’ll stay at that place, but I’m at that place.

“As long as I’m capable, in other words, able to do the things I need to on and off the racetrack to be successful, then I’ll continue to do so with the hopes of living out my lifelong dream to be a Cup champion.”

Until then, he’s not ready to focus on a second act to his racing career as Johnson is doing with his racing in the Rolex 24, finishing second this past weekend, and in IndyCar.

“As I’ve said prior to the Daytona crash and post-Daytona crash, (my goal) is just to go out and have fun and to live out a lifelong dream and enjoy the people that are around me that have a common goal,” he said. “That, as I said, can change at any minute or any moment. Fortunately, as it tried to change in February of last year, it didn’t, and I’m still here.”

COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at goprn.com. …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.