For Ryan Newman and the crew members who turn wrenches on the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway marks the end of an era as it is the final race where Newman and the No. 39 team will be emblazoned in the colors of the U.S. Army.
Since taking the wheel of the Soldiers’ car in 2009 when he joined SHR, Newman has worn the U.S. Army logo that has adorned his uniform and the hood of his racecar with great pride.
Knowing that only the strongest wear the colors of the U.S. Army, Newman is thankful each time he dons the logo on his driver suit for the Soldiers he represents, who possess a mental, emotional and physical strength like no other. And he does everything in his power to assure the U.S. Army Racing Team reflects those strengths.
Over the past four seasons, Newman has had the opportunity to witness first-hand the courage and selfless service of Army Strong Soldiers. He’s had the privilege of meeting Soldiers at many bases across the country and in one-on-one encounters at the racetrack. And with each meeting, he has shaken the hands of the Soldiers and thanked them for their selfless service. He has told them how proud he is to be a part of their team.
Newman has come to understand that the Army is the strength of the Nation, and the Soldiers are the strength of our Army.
Although the U.S. Army announced in July it would be leaving SHR and NASCAR at the end of the season, the lessons Newman has learned and the Soldiers he has met over the years will be something the 11-year Sprint Cup veteran will never forget. He readily admits he once took his freedom for granted, but now he understands the sacrifices made by Soldiers past and present allowed him to drive the Soldiers’ racecar. And he knows his racecar and team represents the Army’s leading-edge technology, teamwork and the powerful, realistic training of its Army Strong Soldiers.
So with one race remaining with the U.S. Army as his sponsor, Newman would like nothing more than to deliver the ultimate “thank you” to the Soldiers this weekend by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 in their final race together.
In 10 races at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Newman has earned three top-10 finishes. Despite the 1.5-oval not being one of his better racetracks, Newman does have a renewed sense of confidence heading into this weekend’s season finale.
Three weeks ago at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Newman was reunited with his former crew chief Matt Borland. Since then, Newman has never finished outside the top-12, including a fifth-place finish last Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. With steady improvement in recent weeks, Newman is looking forward to ending the 2012 season on a high note and giving the U.S. Army a fitting farewell.
One last time, Newman will refer to the many lessons he has learned from his U.S. Army counterparts, where its Soldiers put the mission first and display a never-quit attitude and a refusal to accept defeat. For in his final mission with the U.S. Army, Newman’s goal is what it always has been – to put the Soldiers’ car in victory lane, and he will settle for nothing less than a win.