This Week’s No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Michigan International Speedway

Ryan Newman will make his 606th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start when we return to the Irish Hills of Michigan. In 34 Cup events at MIS, Newman scored back-to-back victories in the fall 2003 and spring 2004 events. The “Rocket Man” also owns a pole award. In total, he’s recorded six top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has led 113 laps in competition. The South Bend, Indiana native has an average start of 13.7 and average finish of 16.4. And in four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the speedway, he has visited victory lane two times (2001, 2005). In the last 10 events at MIS, Newman ranks 10th in most championship points earned.

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In the last five races, it appears like the No. 31 team is finally trending in the right direction. What is your mindset now on trying to earn a spot in the Playoffs?

“Just like anyone else, we are trying to win. We’ve been trying to win all season. It’s been a challenge, no doubt on different levels. In five weeks, we’ve had three top-10 finishes. We’ve been better than we have been but, been struggling in some areas. The guys have really pulled it together, but still not to the point where we need to be, but we’re definitely making big gains. Everyone at RCR and ECR have been working very hard, myself included to try to get to Victory Lane

“Up until the cut-off race we have to be able to put everything together. It includes pit strategy, the stage breaks, but overall, we’ve got to do our best to get the most points possible. We have to do everything we can to get as many stage points we can and obviously be there at the end to contend for the win.

What has your team been working on to improve your season?

“The biggest thing we’ve been working on with the new Camaro ZL1 is really the downforce. We’ve been working on getting the car to stick to the racetrack. You can have all the power in the world, and all the right springs and shocks in it but if the car is not getting pushed down then you aren’t going to win. Realistically that’s been one of the focuses and we’ve made some gains. I think a lot of other teams have too. Collectively, we’re digging in and working hard. We have to do that. This is a very humbling sport and there is only one winner in the end and 39 losers. We’ve been beat down pretty hard, but we still have our chin up. We’ve been focused on trying to get that victory.