Coming into this weekend’s AdvoCare 500 Ryan Newman is looking past the awkwardness of this past week and onto breaking a record he holds with a friend. Newman and Buddy Baker are tied atop the all-time lead for poles with seven apiece.
“Buddy Baker has been a good friend and mentor to me since I got my opportunity to race stock cars with Penske Racing back in 2000. He was someone I had admired and, when I got to know him, we had a lot in common and really enjoyed each other. I still talk to him pretty frequently – we both have a lot of stories about each other, which we won’t get into – and we have fun. A lot of people have heard me tell the stories about how and what Buddy taught me, but it’s something that’s pretty cool and has been really important to my career. Buddy and I would go to racetracks and we would take our rental car out on the tracks at tests and drive around the racetracks forward and backward. Driving the tracks backward gave me a different perspective of the entry and exit points of each corner. What Buddy did was teach me how to approach those areas on the racetrack when I was driving the track the right way. Atlanta was a track that he helped me with a lot. Back when I tied him for the pole record, I think he joked that he shouldn’t have taught me quite so well,” explained Newman.
He continued discussing the impact that Baker had on his career. “To be honest, though, Buddy probably helped me more than I realized at the time because he never told me what to do – he told me what not to do. He would never tell me when I was doing something right, but he always told me what I was doing wrong because he wanted me to learn from my mistakes. He was an amazing teacher and I count myself very lucky to have Buddy as a friend and mentor. Teaching me the things not to do rather than the things to do made a big difference and a big impact. If I could not make some of those same mistakes he did that cost him a shot at a victory and to make an addition to his resume, those were things that were going to help my resume.”
Bottom line is pole or no pole, they need to be up front when the checkered flag flies on Sunday. “I think we’ll be good in Atlanta. It’s obviously very important for us to have a strong finish this weekend to keep climbing in the point standings. We need to focus on having good, strong runs in these next two races. If we can do that, then we’ll have a chance to compete for the championship.”
The action gets underway for the AdvoCare 500 Sunday night at 7:30. All the action from the Atlanta Motor Speedway can be seen on ESPN.