|Ryan Newman wins on a short track right after Tony Stewart wins on an intermediate track. (Getty Images)|
It's time to add Stewart-Haas Racing into the conversation about powerhouse Sprint Cup Series teams.
After Tony Stewart's incredible run to last year's championship and his team winning three of this season's first six races, SHR deserves to be discussed in the same category as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing as one of the sport's elite organizations.
|More on Martinsville|
Ryan Newman's win Sunday in Martinsville followed Stewart's victory a week ago in Fontana to give SHR back-to-back trips to Victory Lane. While the triumphs came on two completely different styles of tracks, there's no denying the impressive performance of the organization.
"It's different situations and different racetracks, and I guess there are two things to talk about," Newman said after career Sprint Cup Series number 16 on Sunday. "Tony dominated. He drove from whatever he was, 14th and whatever in qualifying up to the lead under green the whole entire way and he had a dominant race car.
"Today we didn't have a dominant race car but we put ourselves in position and in contention in the last two green and white checkers."
Winning on a short track like Martinsville is a major accomplishment for SHR, which prides itself on being competitive on larger ovals like Fontana and next week's trip to Texas Motor Speedway.
Newman believes Sunday's win on the Virginia bullring bodes well for the team's overall effort this season.
"The strength overall for Stewart Haas, it's a two mile racetrack and a half mile racetrack, and Stewart already won on a mile and a half racetrack," he said. "So we have a good strong start to the season when it comes to looking at the racetracks and the places that we race at, and that makes a difference.
"Some guys are only capable of winning at certain racetracks and we have proved that Stewart-Haas is capable of a lot."
As it proved last year, Stewart-Haas is certainly capable of a championship again in 2012. But although Newman is positive about the direction his team is headed this season, he's keeping things in perspective at such an early juncture of the campaign.
"We just have to keep our nose to the grindstone," Newman said. "This is a great step in the right direction but ultimately this is just one small steppingstone, and we have to build a pretty nice sidewalk."
The foundation for that sidewalk appears to be firmly in place.
|Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.|
|Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.|
|Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.|
|Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.|
|Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.|
|Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.|
|Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.|
|A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.|
|Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.|
|Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.|
|Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.|
|Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.|
|13||Martin Truex Jr.||10|
|His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.|
|An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.|