Ryan Newman broke a 127-race NASCAR Cup series winless streak Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. It also snapped a 112-race streak without a victory for Richard Childress Racing, which hadn’t had a car in Victory Lane since Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix in November 2013.
Here are five questions with Newman, speaking with reporters after Sunday’s race:
Q. Is this victory any more meaningful than others you’ve had?
A. It’s sweet for so many reasons. I said that when I won the Brickyard. I said that when I won at Daytona. This has been the longest drought I’ve ever been in. Even in Phoenix, the runners-up (finishes) suck. It’s just a hard-fought race, a hard-fought battle, a hard-fought four years.
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Q. What was your biggest frustration over this stretch of not winning?
A. Just the level of competition. There for a while, we had all the downforce on the cars. It was a downforce and horsepower game. Who had the most horsepower to pull the downforce. Our guys have done a great job of stepping up. Our engines have been good all year. I think this downforce package is playing to our favor as well. It’s fun to go out there and slide around a little bit. We were actually more competitive than we’ve ever been at this racetrack, able to get around other cars.
Kudos to NASCAR for listening to the drivers and making those changes. I thought we’ve seen some great racing the first four races of the season.
Q. After going for such a long time without winning, what do you tell yourself to keep going?
A. There’s a lot of guys in this sport that have never won. Going a long time without winning, you have confidence in your mind that you can do it. There’s guys that go their whole career and never win, and good drivers. You just got to stay humble. This sport, you walk away from it, there’s one guys that wins, 39 losers. You have to be humble walking into it that you’re probably not going to win that day. Odds are against you.
There are some greats out there that have stacked up some numbers. (Kevin) Harvick has done well here. Jimmie (Johnson) has done well. Jeff (Gordon was) dominant at times. But those days of domination I think are kind of fewer and farther between if you look at the first four races of this year.
Q. Can you compare the emotions today to 2014 when you made the final round of the playoffs?
A. It’s a similar feeling of success. That gave me an opportunity at the championship. Today gives me an opportunity at the championship. But you kind of just live in the moment.
Q. With this being your 18th career win, is it possible to say where this one ranks in comparison to the others because of how long of a drought it was?
A. Yeah, the drought makes a difference. It shouldn’t, but it does. That’s just the way your mind works. If we go out and win the next three races in a row, it will still feel sweet. After not winning for so long in a sport that’s so demanding, it does add some sugar to it.