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Newman Warms Up For Talladega In Atlanta

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 31 2013

Ryan Newman will start the Atlanta Cup race with all his limbs in tact. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

(Editor’s note: RacinToday.com’s Rick Minter has been granted full access to driver Ryan Newman and is spending the weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway reporting on the Stewart-Haas Racing driver. The following is the second of a three-part series by Minter on Newman. Click  for part one and three.)

HAMPTON, Ga. – Ryan Newman’s Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway started off much the same as his Friday, when he headed down the road to visit the Noah’s Ark animal sanctuary with his wife and daughters.

“We were up at 8:30, out the door at 9:30 and at Noah’s Ark by 10,” Newman said.

There, he helped staff members work with ostriches and emus and even fed seven rather large alligators a meal of meat – three five-gallon bucketfuls.

He said he wasn’t too worried about getting eaten alive.

“As long as the people at Noah’s Ark knew the gators, I felt like I knew them,” he said, adding that he got up close to the powerful critters while providing them their dinner.

“I had my hand on one side of the meat while the other end was touching the gator’s nose,” he said.

Newman compared feeding gators to racing in the draft at Talladega Superspeedway.

“You know what could happen,” he said. “And you’re really happy when it doesn’t.”

A lunch of pizza ended his road trip and it was back to the track and back to work with the No. 39
Chevrolet.

“The car feels pretty good,” Newman said after consulting with crew chief Matt Borland between

Ryan Newman serves up lunch to an alligator. (Photo by Michelle Hanna)

practice sessions. “It was really good at the end of practice, and we still have a couple of things to work on.”

He said the goal was to get the car driving good, whether it was in the heat of the afternoon or the cooler temperatures of nighttime. [Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 starts in the afternoon and ends after dark.]

“When you get it driving good in the daytime, it should drive even better after dark,” he said.

Once practice is done, Newman planned a low-key evening.

“We’re just going to rest and relax, and play with the babies,” he said.

And he was set to watch the Nationwide race going on outside his home away from home in the motorcoach lot in the AMS infield. But it won’t be from trackside.

“I’m going to watch the air-conditioned Nationwide race,” he said.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 31 2013
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