Strengths – Ryan Newman is a solid all around driver. He’s not flashy at any particular track type, but he’s more than capable of coming home with a respectable finish at nearly every venue. When I say respectable I’m not talking about winning or finishing in the top five. I’m talking about being low-double digits good with potential to finish in the top ten.
In 2018 I would look for Newman to be at his best at flat tracks and short tracks. He’s also worth a roll of the dice at plate tracks and road courses.
Weaknesses – Intermediate tracks were a key weakness from Ryan Newman and the #31 team. Since they comprise so much of the schedule it was a glaring weaknesses from a team of this caliber.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
Intermediate tracks make up the core of the schedule and last year Ryan Newman lacked speed at these venues. For the season he scored the 19th most points, had a 19.6 average finish and a 19.2 average running position. In the four prior seasons on this track type he scored the 11th, 7th, 7th and 12th most points, so it’s clear 2017 was a down year in performance. Will be bounce back, that remains to be seen but I think he should be marginally better.
Ryan Newman’s performances at 1.5 mile tracks were a very notable weakness. He finished well in the Coca Cola 600 ( 9th, fuel mileage race), and the season finale (10th), but all the rest of his results were 17th or worse. It’s hard being competitive when you consider these particular tracks make up around a third of the schedule.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – High
Ryan Newman is often at his best at flat tracks. He’s a proficient performer at both the bigger and the smaller flat venues.
Personally I like Newman more at the shorter flat tracks. From a performance perspective I think this sub-track type is his best. Last year at shorter flat tracks he scored the 10th most points, finished in the top ten in half the races and had an 11.8 average finish. Last spring at Phoenix, Newman raced his way to victory lane and got his only win of the season. I will note despite his prowess at these tracks he’s certainly not immune from coming home with “clunker” finishes.
In 2017 at the bigger flat tracks Ryan Newman was a solid performer. Last year he scored the 6th most points and was one of just three drivers who finished in the top fifteen every race. In 2017 Newman finished 3rd at Indy which was a high-attrition race and finished 14th in both Pocono races. At bigger flat tracks in 2018 I would set his baseline fantasy value as being a low-double digits driver.
Short Track Fantasy Value – High
Ryan Newman is a pretty solid driver at short tracks. Last year in the six races at these venues he scored the 10th most points, had four top tens and was one of just two drivers who finished in the top fifteen every race. At all three shorts tracks in 2018 I would look for Newman to compete for a top ten. In terms of setting his baseline fantasy value on this track type I think it’s fairly safe to pencil him in for a result between 7th to 15th.
One attribute I like about Newman is that he’s a fairly safe option at these venues and almost always finishes in the top 15. At Bristol he’s only once finished outside the top 16 since 2014. At Martinsville he has five straight top 16 results, and at Richmond in 10 of the last 13 races he’s finished in the top 15.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – High
Ryan Newman is a perceptual dark horse option at plate tracks. Last year at these venues he scored the 11th most points and finished in the top five twice. In the two races he didn’t finish in the top five he wrecked. Newman’s five year average points ranking on this track type is 10.8.
At plate tracks Ryan Newman rides around in the back until the end. That driving style means he either finishes really well, or he’s caught up in a late wreck while driving to the front.
In 2018 at plate tracks I think Newman is worth a roll of the dice at these wild card venues and as long as he doesn’t wreck he’ll likely compete for a top ten.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – High
Last year at road courses Newman had an off-year and scored the 25th most points. In 4 of the 5 prior seasons on this track type he scored between the 9th to 11th most points.
Between the two road courses already on the schedule I like Newman more at Sonoma. Over the last five races there his average finish is 11.6. Last year he finished 15th. At Watkins Glen Newman finished 25th last year. In 6 of the last 8 races there he’s finished between 11th to 16th.
At all three road courses in 2018 I would view Newman as a low-double digits to a mid-teens driver.