LOUDON, N.H. — It was not shaping up like a weekend to write home about for the Roush Fenway Racing team.
Ryan Newman started at the back of the pack, and dealt with some mechanical issues Sunday, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crashed out and finished a disappointing 36th.
But Newman provided some magic at the “Magic Mile,” battling his No. 6 Oscar Meyer Ford to a seventh-place finish in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The 41-year-old got off to a promising start, soaring through the field in the opening stages after starting the race from the rear with a backup car after a wreck in practice. He was third at the conclusion of the second stage.
But a broken coil wire saw the No. 6 car lose some power and shuffle down the order to 15th with 61 laps to go. He climbed his way back to 12th, then picked up five places over the final 29 laps.
“Honestly that’s the most fun I’ve had all year in a race car,” Newman said after the race. “I slid through the box, we had a bad coil wire, we had a bunch of things that set us back being the backup car, starting last, and to have the finish that we did, on a track that is usually difficult to pass at. But I will say that I did pass a few guys three-wide and that doesn’t happen too often here.
“Today was kind of like a win,” he added. “For us to fight back from all the things that we did, I feel very emotional about how well we did today given the adversity we had in front of us.”
It’s Newman’s 21st top-10 finish in 35 races at New Hampshire, and put himself into the playoff picture after entering the weekend two points outside of the top 16. It was the No. 6 team’s third straight top 10, and fifth over the last six races. Newman still is without a win, however, leaving him vulnerable of being bumped from the title chase.
“It’s not dire. We’re just out there doing the best that we can,” Newman said of the playoff picture. “I don’t think of it as dire. I think of it as an opportunity. This is our first time at this race track and we have a string of top 10’s going here that we need to keep going and I look forward to these next few races.”