Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, is coming off arguably his worst season in a decade. He registered only two top-five finishes in 2016 and finished 18th in points -- matching the worst finish of his career as a full-time driver in what now is the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, last set in 2006.
But that doesn't mean the 38-year-old can't turn it around in 2017 after signing a multi-year contract extension with RCR. Here are five keys to a successful season for Newman:
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Stay out of trouble
Newman's calling card when he nearly stole the championship in 2014 without winning a race was consistency. He needs to get back to scoring more top-five and top-10 finishes while avoiding trouble at all costs.
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Return of the Rocket Man
Qualifying is arguably going to be more important than ever with NASCAR's new three-stage race format, and Newman long has been recognized as one of the best.
But the "Rocket Man" hasn't exactly lit a fire since NASCAR went to knockout qualifying. While he has 51 career poles, he last won one at New Hampshire in 2013 -- his last year with Stewart-Haas Racing before coming over to RCR. That was 116 races ago.
Newman needs to get back to qualifying better.
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Find more speed in the car
It's no secret that RCR has lagged behind NASCAR's other big teams in finding the speed necessary to win races in recent seasons. But they've hired lots of smart engineers to help turn that around, and now that Stewart-Haas Racing has defected to the Ford camp, maybe Chevrolet will make RCR more of a priority.
Having said all that, Newman likes to tell everyone he's a graduate of engineering at Purdue -- which he is -- so maybe he can lend more of a voice to the team when it comes to squeezing every last drop of speed out of the car on race weekends.
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Synergy with crew chief Luke Lambert
When they finished second in the final standings in 2014 despite not winning a race, the chemistry between Newman and crew chief Luke Lambert was celebrated. It was only going to be a matter of time until they started winning races -- or so everyone thought.
The fact is, their partnership hasn't really progressed -- or at least it's not showing on the race track yet. Newman has yet to win a race since coming to RCR and hasn't won at all since going to Victory Lane at Indianapolis in 2013 while he was finishing up at SHR. That was 124 races ago.
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Find Victory Lane again
Newman already has proven he could come out of the gate with a win in the Daytona 500 (live on FOX Feb. 26). He did it in 2008 while driving for Team Penske.
It might be one of his best chances to win in 2017, and would pretty much guarantee his season was a success if he could do it again. But if not in the Daytona 500, it absolutely is essential for Newman to win a race again somewhere before the year is out.