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Past Fantasy Outlooks
To say that 2020 was a tough season for Newman would be a huge understatement. He started off the season racing for the win in the Daytona 500, but a millisecond of bad luck would put the driver of the No. 6 Ford on his roof sliding across the finish line and then t-boned by the No. 32 of Corey Lajoie. The head injuries sustained would sideline Newman for three months, but the COVID shutdown of NASCAR would enable him to only miss three races. When Newman returned to action it was clear that he wasn't his "old self." Whether it was the lack of practice and qualifying or whether he just was not up to 100-percent physically is up for debate. However, the two Top-10 finish, 25th-place points finish campaign was easily the worst of his 19-season career. Newman enters the 2021 season 43-years-old and with a lot of questions.
The 42-year-old veteran posted a solid season in his first campaign with Roush Fenway Racing. Newman piloted the team's No. 6 Ford to three Top-5 and 14 Top-10 finishes and a respectable 15th-place finish in the points. It was just another typical Newman year. While the ability to win races has grown distant in the rearview mirror this driver still races well and finishes well most weekends. His 14.6 average finish in 2019 is a testament to this fact. Newman is a consistent performer who seldom fails to finish races, and that reliability equals dependability from the fantasy racing side. He will once again be paired with Scott Graves at crew chief, and the two should pick right up where they left off in 2019. The Cup Series is getting younger each season, and that is a bit of a concern as Newman goes forward, but for now he should hold steady.
Newman parted ways with Richard Childress Racing after a five-year run. During that time the veteran driver won one race and posted 63 Top-10 finishes. Newman's deep run into the Chase and runner-up finish in the driver standings of 2014 are the biggest highlights of his time at RCR. Now Newman moves to the embattled Roush Fenway Racing and takes over the No. 6 Ford of the departed Trevor Bayne. This team showed some potential at times last season, during Matt Kenseth's stints in the car. He actually grabbed seventh- and sixth-place finishes in the last two races of 2018 at Phoenix and Homestead. That's a sign that there is some potential for Newman to do good things in this team this season. He'll be paired with crew chief Scott Graves and they'll both look to continue the good work that Kenseth did in this team down the stretch run of last season.
The 17-season veteran has become one of the most predictable and consistent performers in NASCAR's top touring division. Newman broke a three-season winless streak with his surprising victory at Phoenix last year. He added to that with 13 Top-10 finishes. That's been about the norm for the Richard Childress Racing veteran. Newman would end up 16th in the final driver standings, and that's pretty close to what he's averaged over the last three seasons. He returns to the same No. 31 team in 2018 with crew chief Luke Lambert in tow. RCR has even bolstered his sponsorship lineup, which shows a real vote of confidence from the boss. Newman will be consistent yet again in the upcoming season, but we don't expect to see any surprise wins this year. A middle teens Top-10 total and middle teens points finish would seem pretty safe expectations.
After years of consistent racing across multiple teams, we finally saw a drop in performance from Newman last season. His 10 Top-10 finishes and 18th-place finish in the final driver standings were lows not seen since his 2008 struggle-filled season. The veteran driver has slipped from racing for the championship in the final week of the season in 2014, to being almost invisible last season. That's a pretty big drop. At just 38-years-old, we don't credit this to skill erosion, just a team performance write off. Richard Childress Racing will be challenged to give Newman better cars in the upcoming season so he can be more competitive and return to the Chase. If he and crew chief Luke Lambert can't figure things out quickly there could be some shakeups to this team this season.
Consistency has been the trademark of Newman since making the move from Stewart Haas Racing to Richard Childress Racing between the 2013-14 seasons. He's posted two campaigns of nearly identical numbers, with 16 top 10s in 2014 and 15 top 10s last season. The one shortfall has been the ability to win races. Newman has yet to visit victory lane since moving into the No. 31 Chevrolet, and that's not likely to change in the upcoming season. Luke Lambert returns once again to provide crew chief guidance to Newman. The two have worked well together since being paired. It should once again add up to a performance of middle-teens top 10s and another berth in the Chase for the Cup. While not spectacular, Newman is about the most reliable fantasy racing driver in the second tier of the Sprint Cup Series.
The driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in 2012. Rocket Man earned his 16th career Sprint Cup Series win last season but only posted 14 Top-10 finishes in a campaign that fell just short of the Chase. Newman will hope to increase the level of performance in the upcoming season. He has the goal of getting back into the Chase field and winning more races. Newman will be challenged to meet those goals in a sport that just keeps generating more parity. The SHR veteran driver should be good enough to make it back into the Chase in 2013, but we don’t expect to see the multiple race wins and 20 Top 10’s that were the hallmark of his career early on. Instead, the hot streaks we’re accustomed to seeing with this driver should reemerge this year.
Newman should make yet another Chase for the Cup appearance in 2006, but it remains to be seen what it will take for Newman to challenge for the championship. Unless Dodge gets some major aero package concessions, expect Newman to underachieve again this season.
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No NASCAR Plans
Top-5 Finish at Daytona
Newman finished fourth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night.
Offered Partial Cup Schedule
RFR president Steve Newmark indicated that its deal with Brad Keselowski was reached in March and that talks of expanding to a three-car Cup Series operation soon followed. Ultimately, Newmark said, the organization opted to continue as a two-car effort but with the possibility of keeping Newman with a partial schedule, NASCAR.com reports.
Moves to rear Sunday