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Ryan Newman finds good fit with Richard Childress Racing

He made the Chase for the Sprint Cup and scored a career highlight with a Brickyard 400 victory at his hometown track. The 2013 season still left a bitter taste for Ryan Newman.

When Stewart-Haas Racing chose to jettison him for Kevin Harvick and then add a fourth car for Kurt Busch, Newman was left with an uncomfortable reality he hadn't faced before in NASCAR.

"That was probably the toughest emotional year I've had," Newman told USA TODAY Sports. "It really was the first time I'd been fired. When you have the sponsorship, as they did (for a fourth car), it became more obvious. I saw the discontinuity among everybody in that organization, and I don't think any of it was my fault."
He's found a more welcoming environment this season with Richard Childress Racing in part because of a user-friendly approach to adding Newman that fits with his engineering background: Plug and play.

Becoming the driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet SS, Newman replaced Jeff Burton, but that was the only significant change to the team that finished 21st in 2013 points.

"From a chemistry side, you only have to adapt one person instead of a whole bunch of mindsets and attitudes and personalities and egos," said Newman, 11th in the standings and in range of a Chase berth. "It was the first time I've been in that situation. It's been good. I really didn't know what to expect. Just getting to know everybody has probably been the biggest challenge."

But it's been easy to develop a rapport with the employees who matter most — those handling the setup of his car. A mechanical engineer, Newman speaks in the same physics-rooted vernacular as crew chief Luke Lambert, also an engineering graduate.

It's reminiscent of Newman's relationship with former crew chief Matt Borland, who guided him to last year's Brickyard 400 win and 12 more of his 17 career wins from 2002-05 while paired at Penske Racing.

"I've had the most success with somebody who has a mind like mine," Newman said. "With the combination of Luke, (engineers) Matt McCall, (Phil) Surgen, we all have a very good relationship and understanding of the technical background."

To read Nate Ryan's article as it appears on USA Today, CLICK HERE.

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