Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano may have dominated the night. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch may have given the Penske brigade a run for their money. But it was Ryan Newman who quietly marched his way to a season-best finish of third under the lights at Kentucky Speedway.
Starting seventh, Newman was a fixture in the top 10 for much of the night as the Team Penske cars set the race pace.
Newman’s break came when he brought the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to pit road under green on Lap 213 for a scheduled stop.
As Newman hit pit road, Aric Almirola got into the outside wall to bring out the caution. The No. 31 team completed the stop and was able to get their driver off pit road ahead of the pace car, keeping him on the lead lap.
When the rest of the field came in for service under the caution, Newman stayed out and restarted second to Kyle Busch, who was also on pit road when the caution flew.
Although Keselowski was able to get by, and eventually win the race, Newman was able to hang on to the third spot to record his best finish of the season, and best since joining RCR.
"It’s a big gain for us … to get that first top five of the season," he said. "It was a good run. The 2 (Keselowski) was obviously the fastest car all night. The 18 (Busch) got a little better there at the end. We were pretty solid. We never really changed the car, we were pretty neutral and didn’t want to screw it up. So, we ended up where we did."
Prior to Saturday night’s race in Kentucky, Newman’s best finish was seventh at Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Pocono. Scoring the top-five finish, Newman is optimistic about his team’s outlook over the next few weeks, as the battle for the Chase continues to heat up.
"I hope it translates, and I think it will," he said. "I think we’ve got some stuff coming — Pocono and Indy are a couple I really look forward to."
Newman is the defending winner at Indianapolis, and ran seventh at Pocono earlier this year.