Can Ryan Newman return to top form now?
Newman has reunited with crew chief Matt Borland starting this weekend. The pair previously worked in these roles at Penske Racing, earning 12 wins and 37 pole positions together. Borland has still been working with Newman, though as vice president of competition at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Now, he's returning to familiar turf.
The pair haven't exactly picked up where they left off - Borland said that will take a little while after his lengthy absence from the role - but things are going well so far. They reunited as Tony Gibson, who has been Newman's crew chief, is moving to work with Danica Patrick's Cup program in 2013.
Newman is currently 15th in the standings with one win this season. He starts 18th Sunday.
Team co-owner Tony Stewart says that Borland was open to doing whatever was needed to improve performance - something that led to his return to the crew-chief slot.
"He's pretty much a company guy," Stewart said. "He wants to do whatever is best for the company. That's what Ryan wanted, so that's what we made happen."
What does Borland see as the component needed for the team to step up?
"I think the biggest thing we have just been lacking a little bit of speed," he said. "Obviously, other teams have caught up they have done some things to get faster. We are just that little step off each week that I think we are just still searching for."
Now, he'll look to recapture the magic the pair shared in the past.
Borland and Newman not only worked together but have been genuine friends. That gives them an edge, Borland says, as they talk more and have more chances to recognize something each says that could be a key to a needed change.
They have also always brought the same perspective to the track. What was their key to success?
"I think just attitude probably and work ethic," he said. "Everything was about racing, everything was about winning and everything was about that particular moment in time being the best you can be. I think having everybody on that team that was in that mindset the program was able to run very strongly. I think that was the big piece."
Can they replicate that?
"You never know," he said. "Obviously that is the goal. We are going to do everything we can to get back to that, but (on) a lot of the teams that is what they are after, so it's a challenge."