Daytona 500 Preview: Why You Should Root On Ryan Newman, “The Rocketman”

If you ain’t first, you’re last.

We all know who uttered those famous words in the NASCAR spoof featuring Will Ferrell.  However, I have often wondered, “How many drivers actually have that philosophy?”

After all, Matt Kenseth once won the Sprint Cup by only winning one out of thirty-six races.  If consistency is really all that matters, would any driver really take that “all or nothing” philosophy?

While we may really never be able to find out the answer to that question, I met one driver who does in fact have this philosophy of racing.

Meet The Rocketman, Ryan Newman.

ryan-newman-daytona

Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart share a laugh while waiting to do interviews during media day for this year's Daytona 500 (AP Photo/John Raoux)

This past week, I had the opportunity to interview the Indiana native and ask him some interesting questions about his driving style.

While oftentimes famous athletes tend to give well-reheasred, oft-repeated answers, I was surprised by Newman’s candor.

On the one hand, Newman is similar to a lot of his racing peers.  He loves hunting and the great outdoors.  He enjoys spending time with his family, and he currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

On the other hand, Newman is one of the only drivers in NASCAR that has a college degree.  In fact, he earned his Bachelor’s in Engineering at Purdue University.  Anyone (even IU fans) that is familiar with Purdue could tell you that this is indeed an accomplishment not to be taken lightly.

But the one place that Newman really stands out from other drivers is his desire to win.

A quick look at Newman’s stats would tell you one thing – when he’s good, he’s really good…but he often seems to be inconsistent.

What I discovered in my conversation with him is that really, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

I asked him what he looked at to determine success from week to week.  Sometimes, a driver can have the best car and he finishes 10th.  Other times, he will fight the vehicle all day and end up third because of great pit strategy or the mistake of another racer.  So in my mind, success would tend to vary from week to week.

Not to Ryan Newman.

“Success is one thing – a win.  If you don’t win, you didn’t really achieve anything.”

The Rocketman said it so matter-of-factly that it took me off guard.

Come on now, it couldn’t be that simple could it?  A NASCAR driver can’t control everything on the track…oftentimes he has nothing to do with getting wrecked or finishing poorly.

But to Ryan Newman it is that simple.  Win or go home.  Nothing matters to him but standing in victory lane.

How fortunate of a position that leaves me.

You see, Taylor Global not only allowed me to interview Newman, but they also hooked me up with some sweet gear of his as well as the incredible opportunity to be paired with Newman for this weekend!

Newman and several other drivers have been paired with several other blogs.  MSF and myself are paired with Ryan Newman.

Whichever driver does the best this weekend will win his blogger a free trip to the NASCAR All-Star Race in Charlotte.

Be honest.  If you were in this opportunity, would you rather be in the hands of a guy that is generally going to make the top ten?  Or instead, would you choose to put all your chips in the basket of a guy who is going to try his hardest to win?

For me, it was easy.  Let’s go, Rocketman.  Bring one home for Midwest Sports Fans!

**********

Don’t forget to tune in to the Daytona 500 this Sunday.  Coverage will begin on FOX at 12:00 ET.



About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.

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