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The Chase - Newman, Army Team To Cap Off Successful Season In South Florida

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HOMESTEAD, Nov. 16, 2011: U.S. Army driver Ryan Newman will finish off one of his best seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Heading into the finale at the South Florida track, Newman's season record includes: one win, nine top-fives and 17 top-10s.

The last time he scored more top-fives was in 2004 (11) and the last time with more top-10s was in 2003 (22).

In his first two seasons driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, Newman posted five top-fives and 15 top-10s in 2009 and four top-fives and 14 top-10s in 2010.

"From many standpoints it's been a strong season for our No. 39 team," said Newman, who will be completing his 10th season as a Sprint Cup regular. "We've been more consistent and did some things we haven't done in the past like putting the Army Chevrolet in Victory Lane. The downside of the season has been our Chase results. We truly expected to be a contender when the Chase began in Chicago."

Newman has scored four top-10s during the first nine Chase races, including an impressive come-from-behind fifth-place result in Sunday's event at Phoenix.

"If we can end the season with a performance like we had in Phoenix it would make things that much better for our U.S. Army team during the offseason," noted Newman. "You always want to end the season with a feel-good performance and we also want to make our Army Strong Soldiers proud of their team."

Newman would be the first to admit that he hasn't fared that well at the Homestead high-banked 1.5-mile oval. In nine Cup starts at Homestead, he has three top-10s and an average finish of 19.11.

"The good news about Homestead is that one of my highest finishes (7th) came at last year's race," explained Newman. "We stepped up our mile-and-a-half program this year and aim to have another good showing on Sunday."

Before the Chase began Newman said that it was going to take an average finish of 7.0 or better in the 10 Chase races to win the championship. His average is 17 while the averages of the two contenders Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are 5.22 and 6.89 respectively.

"We just had too many issues and a streak of bad luck during the Chase," said Newman. "But there's a lot of buzz at our Stewart-Haas Racing shop about Tony (Stewart) and the No. 14 team. The spirit is high, knowing that Tony has a shot at winning the Sprint Cup championship. The (No. 14) team has done a remarkable job in the Chase and the battle between Tony and Carl (Edwards) is great for the sport. I know I'm excited about it and I am sure the fans feel the same way."