The perception some racing fans have of drivers’ wives is they live in McMansions, buy expensive clothes, drive luxury cars and travel to races in private planes. Krissie Newman insists this perception isn’t entirely true.
“Some [wives] are glamorous, but most of us are ordinary people,” she said during a recent interview.
Krissie and her husband, Ryan Newman, have two young daughters. Ryan drives the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
Krissie grew up in North Jersey. She graduated from Shippensburg University, where she played soccer. Krissie planned to be a lawyer, but was sidetracked when she met Ryan.
“My grandparents had moved [to the Charlotte area]. I fell in love with the area,” she said. “I was working for a judge. I knew nothing about racing. One day I came into the office and everyone was crying. When I asked why, they said, ‘Dale died.’ I thought Dale worked with us.”
“Dale” was Dale Earnhardt Sr., whoh died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
Through their church, Krissie’s grandparents asked her to show another new resident around Charlotte. The newcomer was Ryan Newman.
“I had no idea who he was,” Krissie said, smiling.
Now, they are involved in Rescue Ranch, a 117-acre animal sanctuary in Statesville, N.C., where they help educate people about animals. Krissie has had an affection for animals since she was a child.
“We realize we can’t save all the animals,” she said. “We believe if we starting educating young people about being more responsible with animals, they’ll teach their kids.”
Rescue Ranch is involving such groups as Future Farmers of America, 4-H Clubs and a local community college.
On their farm the Newmans have five adopted dogs, cows, chickens and buffalo. Um, buffalo?
“They eat apples out of our hands,” she said.
Krissie, 36, seems comfortable with her life. No regrets about not practicing law?
“No, I’ve shifted my focus,” she said. “I’ve seen the benefits from what we’re doing. I think this is what I’m meant to do. You need to find balance in life; you need to know yourself.”
Comfort for Kenseth
Matt Kenseth’s victory at Kentucky last year was his fourth of the season. This year, Kenseth is winless in 16 starts, so no Sprint Cup driver is looking forward to returning to Kentucky Saturday night more than Kenseth.
Asked whether he’s feeling urgency to break through with a win, which would virtually assure him a place in the Chase, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver replied: “I think the biggest sense of urgency probably is that we just know as an organization we need to be running better. We’re not running as good as we did last year as a group. We’re not leading as many laps, sitting on as many poles, winning as many races.
“As far as the urgency to get a win, yeah, you want to get one. In this new format, you really need at least a win and be in the top 30 [in points] to really feel confident about being in the Chase. We’ve just going to keep trying to get in position to win more, and if you can put yourself in that spot enough times, sooner or later you’ll get one.”
Kenseth is fourth in points. Sixteen drivers make the ever-expanding Chase. If there are fewer than 16 winners and Kenseth is still winless before the Chase, but highest in points, he’ll be a Chaser. After 16 races this year, there are 10 winners.
Pocono is ‘traditional’
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will race at Pocono for the second time July 6 in the Pocono IndyCar 500. Castroneves wasn’t born the first time Indy cars competed at Pocono, in 1971, but he’s aware of the track’s history.
Speaking on a conference call yesterday, Castroneves said Pocono “absolutely” belongs on the IndyCar series schedule.
“It’s not only double points [for the drivers], it’s traditional, like Milwaukee and Indianapolis,” the 39-year-old Brazilian said.
Pocono also is close to the Philadelphia/New York markets, and it’s the only track in the East hosting IndyCar races.
Castroneves, second in points this year, and his open-wheelers will warm up for Pocono this weekend in Houston with races on Saturday and Sunday.