As Ryan Newman answered multiple questions about the close finish between him and Ryan Blaney at Talladega, he offered different things he could have done to come out on the winning end of the equation.
But there was one thing Newman knew without a doubt when the two drivers crossed the finish line side-by-side and separated by .007 seconds.
“I knew he was ahead of me at that point,” he said. “For sure.”
Newman led the way as the field exited Turn 4 and hit the final stretch. With the start/finish line positioned at the end of the tri-oval toward Turn 1, it creates a unique situation for drivers trying to defend the lead, and it was in the tri-oval where Blaney muscled his way to the inside of Newman.
“I knew [he was there] and when I doored him, it was too late,” said Newman. “I should have doored him and spun myself across the start/finish line. But I was too late. It is what it is. It’s racing.”
The NASCAR Cup Series veteran understood the situation was all circumstance and how the draft works. Had he blocked Blaney down below the yellow line, like Johnny Sauter in the Saturday afternoon Truck Series race, then Newman felt would have been penalized. But for Blaney to have even got to Newman’s inside was a surprise, with Newman admitting he didn’t think Blaney would get that big of a run.
“I think I could have gone down and taken his air, and he probably would have worked to the outside of me and probably spun me as I tried to block him,” said Newman of what he could have done differently.
“You could replay it 30 days from now and come up with 27 different answers.”
For Blaney, the win advanced him into the Round of 8 while Newman is still over two years without a win. Monday, however, was Newman’s third consecutive top-five finish on a superspeedway.
“Disappointing to not win that one, to be so close,” he said. “I’ve been that close here before. Quite a few years I’ve tried. But just crazy racing and proud to get our Ford a good finish.
I’ve always said you got to lose some that way before you can win some that way, and I guess our wins are coming.”