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Ryan Newman scores second top five of year with strong Richmond run

Ryan Newman has his highest finish in the last 10 races, and puts himself in position to advance to the next round of the NASCAR playoffs.

Every answer Ryan Newman gave after Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway was in regards to a sixth-place finish.

Erik Jones’ disqualification improved Newman’s result in the playoff race by one spot, but likely didn’t change his positive sentiment.

Newman left Richmond with a fifth-place finish, his second top five of the year, and a position inside the cutline for the second round of the playoffs.

That was after what Newman described as “without a doubt” the “best team performance all around” for his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing team this year.

Newman qualified 19th but was a presence in the top 10 by Stage 2, where he battled for position with Jones for much of its 100-lap length before placing sixth (later improved to fifth as Jones also lost his stage points with the disqualification).

Newman didn’t lose any positions on pit road during the Stage 2 break and ran as high as third after the restart before falling behind Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

“You take away those four Gibbs cars, we were racing for the win,” Newman said. “I know it doesn’t work that way, but if they would have had one bad meeting (incident) we would’ve been in the hunt.”

Newman said his team’s main strategy was simply to put four new tires on his No. 6 Ford.

“Had a good short-run car,” Newman said. “One time had a good long-run car, but we could never get both. I think that if we had both we could have run with those guys. We were at our best when we were a little bit biased to a long-run car, but who would’ve known that it was going to be that many green-flag runs.”

Newman has finished in the top 10 in three consecutive races, marking the third time he’s done that this year. He has 11 top 10s through 28 races.

“What meant the most to me probably was just being better than we were the first race (at Richmond),” Newman said. “I ran ninth in the first race, qualified (24th). We came back and showed we were learning and will keep learning.”

With his stage points and top-five finish Saturday night, Newman is now eighth in the standings, 14 points above the cutoff heading to the first elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

“I don’t know that I’m looking forward to the Roval,” Newman admitted. “I don’t know anybody that actually is except for maybe Truex (Richmond winner Martin Truex Jr.).”