The post-mortem on the run that eliminated Ryan Newman from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff boils down to three simple words—not good enough.
Newman left Dover International Speedway with a 13th-place finish in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400, a result that left him two points short of advancing to the Playoff’s Round of 12. Thanks to a fortunate bit of race strategy that garnered seven points in the first stage of the race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., not Newman, survives to fight another day.
“Well, we just weren’t good enough, as simple as that,” Newman said. “We didn’t have a fast-enough race car. We didn’t have the right strategy. We qualified better (eighth)—that was a plus—but these first three races were a challenge for us. It seemed like everybody else stepped up their game, and we didn’t.”
“You can’t run where we ran the last three races and expect to go out and win a championship. So we’ve got some work to do to build on for next year, and we’ll do that.”
Newman also played a role in the outcome of the race. As eventual winner Kyle Busch was closing on then-leader Chase Elliott, Newman was running in front of Elliott, trying desperately to remain on the lead lap.
Busch overtook Elliott with just over one lap left, and that led to a testy post-race exchange between Newman and Jeff Gordon, who preceded Elliott in the No. 24 Chevrolet and still has a piece of the action at Hendrick Motorsports.
As recorded by NBC Sports, Gordon “thanked” Newman on pit road, a remark Newman took as sarcastic.
“You didn’t think I was racing for my own position?” Newman shot back.
“I said, ‘Thanks for that,’” Gordon replied.
“You said it as a smart ass,” Newman retorted, to which Gordon demurred as the two walked away from each other.