|Michigan Power Rankings|
|Minutes after finishing ninth at Michigan and holding onto the 10th and final automatic transfer spot in the Chase for the Championship, Tony Stewart declared himself, in essence, a waste of a spot in the upcoming Sprint Cup playoffs.|
His Stewart-Haas teammate/employee was a different matter. With a fifth-place finish on Sunday at Michigan, Ryan Newman has a victory and four top-five finishes in his last six races and has stealthily gained momentum heading into the playoffs, where business-like finishes and the mitigation of catastrophic finishes is crucial. Winning in the Chase is a benefit -- though Stewart won his second title in 2005 without a victory in the last 10 races -- and Newman showed the ability to hit Victory Lane this season by winning at New Hampshire, site of the second playoff race. His proverbial checklist would seemingly have a lot of proverbial checks.
"We're as far into the Chase right now as we were out of it last year and we only have a few races left," said Newman, who advanced one spot to seventh in driver points. "That's what we have to do every week. We'll try to have a good next few races and then we'll have a better shot at the championship."
Catch all the drama of Chase hopefuls struggling and others solidifying their spot for a championship run.
Newman said his team has needs to address before it can consider itself a title contender.
"We have three more races and every lap is different," he said. "So, I don't know that I can sit here and tell you the strategy on each lap, each restart, each racetrack or, for instance, the weather that we get at them. To me, it's just going and attacking them as we need to attack them and putting ourselves in a position to keep gaining points. We've done a good job up to this point. By no means do we feel like we're -- I shouldn't say -- a championship-caliber team, but I think we have some room that we need to grow to be more successful and have ourselves a better opportunity at winning the championship."