Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman snaps a long winless drought in the desert for Richard Childress Racing

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Ryan Newman took the lead by staying out under caution and won at Phoenix Raceway, ending a three-year winless drought for Richard Childress Racing.

It was the first victory in Cup for RCR since Kevin Harvick at Phoenix in November 2013, a stretch of 112 races. Newman, who joined RCR in 2014, snapped a 127-race winless skid dating to July 2013 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Newman credited the victory to crew chief Luke Lambert, who elected to keep the No. 31 Chevrolet on track instead of pitting for two tires as the driver had requested.

“What a gutsy call by Luke,” Newman told Fox Sports after his 18th victory in NASCAR’s premier series. “I called for two tires, and he called for none. I’ve won more races no tires than I have with four. I’m just proud of these guys. We had a good car all day. We kept it out of trouble and collected in the end.”

A brutally hot day in the Valley of the Sun affected Newman, who slumped over while being administered bags of ice in victory lane.

“I’m spent, man,” he said. “I had the chills on Lap 150. I’m done.”

Kyle Busch took the lead on a pit stop under yellow with 118 laps to go and seemed in command in search of his first victory of the season after being in the spotlight this past week because of a postrace altercation with Joey Logano. Busch wasn’t punished despite taking a swing after a last-lap crash with Logano at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Logano played a role in having a late-race impact again on Busch when his No. 22 Ford blew a right-front tire with six laps remaining, causing a caution that sent the race into overtime. Busch entered the pits with the lead but left in fifth behind three cars that stayed on the track: Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.

Kyle Larson beat Busch out of the pits to start fourth on the restart. Larson finished second, his third consecutive runner-up finish and fourth in the past five races dating to last season’s finale.

Busch, who leap-frogged Chase Elliott into the lead during a caution for a wicked hit by Matt Kenseth (who emerged unscathed), staved off the field on two restarts before losing the lead. He was trying to end a 19-race winless streak dating to last July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Busch finished third, followed by Stenhouse and Brad Keselowski.

First-time stage winners claimed the first two 75-lap segments of the race.

Logano started from the pole and led 82 of the first 84 laps to capture the first stage. But his No. 22 Ford dropped to 32nd on Lap 122 after a speeding penalty under yellow.

Elliott won the second stage after taking the lead on a three-wide move.

Ryan and Krissie Newman’s Rescue Ranch critters make Super Bowl picks

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Even though they’re deep in the heart of Carolina Panthers country, the critters of Ryan and Krissie Newman’s Rescue Ranch are giving an ever so slight edge to the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

In a video from RR, the voting went 5-4 in favor of the Broncos.

That makes Ryan happy — he’s pulling for the Broncos and one of his favorite players, Peyton Manning.

Wife Krissie is going with the Panthers, though.

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2016 Team Preview: Richard Childress Racing

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RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING

SPRINT CUP DRIVER LINEUP: Ryan Newman (crew chief Luke Lambert), Paul Menard (Justin Alexander), Austin Dillon (Slugger Labbe)

XFINITY DRIVER LINEUP: Ty Dillon (crew chief Nick Harrison), Brandon Jones (Mike Hillman Jr.), Brendan Gaughan (Shane Wilson), shared car of Austin Dillon/Paul Menard (crew chief Danny Stockman),

CHANGES: Jones is promoted from part-time to full-time in the Xfinity Series, with former Truck Series driver Mike Hillman Jr. as his crew chief. Jones will also be contending for Rookie of the Year honors. … Ty Dillon will be driving a select number of Sprint Cup races – including the season-opening Daytona 500 – in the No. 95 Chevrolet as part of a partnership between RCR and Circle Track-Leavine Family Racing for 2016.

DID YOU KNOW: It has been 22 years since RCR won its last Sprint Cup championship (1994, Dale Earnhardt’s seventh and final championship). … RCR has not reached Victory Lane in Sprint Cup competition since Kevin Harvick’s four wins in 2013. … Other than Harvick, the last RCR driver to earn a win in Sprint Cup is Menard in 2011 (Brickyard 400). … This is RCR’s 47th year tied with Chevrolet.

EXPECTATIONS: Even though he didn’t get past the first round, it was a promising sign that Menard made the Chase for the first time in his career in 2015. … Austin Dillon appears ready for a breakout season. … With defending champ Chris Buescher, 2014 champ Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and former RCR driver Brian Scott moving up to Sprint Cup in 2016, this could be Ty Dillon’s best chance at an Xfinity Series championship. It also could potentially be Ty Dillon’s last season in Xfinity; he’s likely to move up to Sprint Cup in 2017.

WHAT THEY SAID:

“The goals are higher this year. We expect to make the Chase, now we have to get up there and win a championship. I know how hard this group has worked. I spent a lot of time in the offseason around the shop, more than ever, and our focus is there in every department.” – Team owner Richard Childress.

“We’ve gotta win this year in the Cup. We’ve been consistent, and that’s what it takes, but we want to win in the Cup Series this year and we will.” — Team owner Richard Childress.

“Close. Closer two years ago. I think we have all the tools and there are a lot of situations that happen in the Chase that some you are in control of and some you’re not in control of. We came close two years ago, really close, one point close.”  — Ryan Newman on how close he thinks he is to capturing a championship with this team.

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2015 Season in Review: Ryan Newman

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Ryan Newman

CREW CHIEF: Luke Lambert

TEAM: Richard Childress Racing

POINTS: 11th

WINS: 0

TOP 5s: 5

TOP 10s: 15

LAPS LED: 20

POLES: 0

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Ryan Newman had an almost identical year to 2014 performance-wise, but there were key differences. In 2014, he failed to win a race, had five top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, made the Chase and finished a surprising second behind champion Kevin Harvick. In 2015, he again failed to win a race (he hasn’t reached Victory Lane since the 2013 Brickyard 400), had five top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. He qualified for the Chase, but unlike the previous season failed to reach the final round, finishing the season in 11th place. Despite mediocre numbers overall, Newman continued to be a picture of consistency, with 28 lead-lap finishes.

WHAT WENT WRONG: After the outstanding finish in 2014, expectations were high not only for Newman’s team, but the entire RCR organization. Sure, Newman and teammate Paul Menard both made the Chase in 2015 (the first time Menard has ever done so), but all three RCR teams underachieved in the big picture, with its two Chase entrants failing to do much once they reached the playoffs. … RCR has now gone 21 seasons since its last Sprint Cup championship (Dale Earnhardt, 1994). … With the exception of Kevin Harvick’s nine combined wins between 2011 and 2013, no other RCR driver has visited Victory Lane since Paul Menard’s surprising win in the 2011 Brickyard 400. That’s nearly 4 ½ years!

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2016: What happens in 2016 could have a significant impact upon RCR’s future. Will Childress grandson Ty Dillon be ready to be brought up to the Cup level in 2017? If so, does RCR expand to a fourth team, or are Newman and Menard on the hot seat to significantly up their performance – or potentially lose their seat for 2017? There are already rumors that the younger Dillon may drive for Joe Falk or Harry Scott (replacing Clint Bowyer after his one-year stint in 2016 before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017) in the Sprint Cup Series in 2017 if there is no room (or money for him) in the RCR inn.

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Guess which NASCAR Sprint Cup driver turns the big 4-0 today

(Photo courtesy official DeLana Harvick Twitter account)
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Today is a big day for Kevin Harvick.

The 2014 Sprint Cup champ might want to put a zero next to the 4 on his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, as he turns the big 4-0 today.

That’s right, Harvick is the latest NASCAR driver to turn 40. He joins an exclusive club that includes Greg Biffle (turns 46 on Dec. 23), Tony Stewart (44), the recently retired Jeff Gordon (44), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (41) and Jimmie Johnson (40).

As of this writing, Harvick hasn’t acknowledged hitting the age milestone on Twitter, but his wife, team and Todd Bodine made sure they marked it.

Don’t let hitting 40 get you down, Kevin. It’s not all downhill from there.

Instead, remember: 40 is the new 30!

Harvick isn’t the only NASCAR notable to be celebrating a birthday Tuesday. Others include:

* Fellow Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman (38 years old).

* Kerry Earnhardt (48).

* Matt Kenseth crew chief Jason Ratcliff (48).

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