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NASCAR

Ryan Newman Inches Closer and Closer to Wild Card Berth

Ryan Newman

Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports

Ryan Newman has capped off a great week. What started Wednesday with a great run at Eldora Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series became a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Saturday, and culminated in an emotional victory at his home track, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on Sunday.

The tricky thing is, where does Newman go from here? Obviously, Newman can still compete at an elite level, but doesn’t have a sure ride in Sprint Cup next season. While he is linked with Richard Childress Racing, most insiders don’t believe that he will get the open seat Kevin Harvick vacated to go to Newman’s current team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

Regarding 2013, Newman has clinched an incredible amount of momentum this week, and the team seems to be clicking, despite five DNF’s that leave Newman out of the wild card picture for now. But, Newman’s nine top-10 runs are a great feat, and 24 points separate him from his boss Tony Stewart, and only 20 points separate Newman from the second wild card, Martin Truex Jr.

Compared to last week in Loudon, Jeff Gordon was able to secure himself into the top 10, but if he does not by the chase cut-off at Richmond, Tony Stewart will likely replace him, leaving Newman as the second wild card.

Newman gained three points on leader Jimmie Johnson while Stewart loss four this week despite a top-five run. Truex proved to be the big loser, losing 11 points, and falling into the clutches of Newman who has all the momentum in the world.

Looking forward, Pocono is one of Ryan Newman’s strongest tracks. In 23 career races, Newman has 11 top-10 runs, including four of the last five races. He earned one of his three top-five finishes this year in Pocono a few weeks ago.

From there, the tour will head to the road course of Watkins Glen, where anything can happen, but both Stewart and Truex will likely be strong. Newman for his part has never failed to finish at the road course, running 993 of 994 laps at the track during the career. Two of his last three finishes at the track have been in the top 12, meaning this is the race fans should circle on the calendar as the one that will decide the wild card.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486