Every so often, you hear a NASCAR driver or someone on the team throw out the phrase, “stacking pennies.” It’s an expression that refers to making continual improvement by building on what has been working.
Ryan Newman hasn’t used those words yet this season, but his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing team is doing just that: Stacking pennies.
Newman & Co. enter the Gander RV 400 at Dover (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, FS1) off three straight top-10 Cup Series finishes, and with seven top-14 finishes in 10 races. He is 13th in the point standings ahead of drivers like Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson (of Hendrick Motorsports); Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing); and Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing).
Further, consider that Newman’s three top-10 finishes are more than what the two drivers who drove the No. 6 car last year earned combined. Trevor Bayne competed in 21 of 36 races in 2018 and did not earn a top 10 result. Matt Kenseth, who ran the other 15 races, finished inside the top 10 twice.
“I’m proud of what we are building together as a team — Scott Graves (crew chief), myself and the guys,” Newman said this week. “I think if you look at our package and the history of Roush Fenway Racing, the No. 6 has proven to be a very competitive car. I’m happy to be able to make steps in that direction, toward being more competitive.”
The struggles of the team a year ago were well documented when Kenseth came off the sidelines to share the ride with Bayne. Replaced at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth didn’t have a full-time ride going into the ’18 season, and the team with which he won the 2003 Cup Series championship was looking for answers about its program.
Newman was hired in the fall and lauded by team owner Jack Roush not only for his competitive nature but engineering background. Graves, who won an Xfinity Series championship with RFR, was named crew chief soon thereafter.
Through 10 races, Newman has earned 25 stage points, which is also more than what Bayne and Kenseth earned combined a year ago (18).
“We’re making steps in the right direction,” said Newman, whose Roush Mustang will start back on the 11th row at Dover next to Kyle Busch’s JGR Toyota. “It’s been a new situation for me — not just with Roush Fenway, but a new rules package, new manufacturer and many other factors. But, I’ve been pleased with our progress and we will continue to work at it each week and get better each week, and we will see just how competitive we can be as the season progresses.”
To that point, after Newman earned his season-best result last weekend at Talladega – a seventh – he noted the team had a few more pennies to stack.
“Need to get a win, need to get a top five,” he said. “We’ve got the top 10s rolling, that’s good; but we need to keep everything [moving] in the right direction.”