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Newman bullish on team's chances

Ryan Newman believes both Stewart-Haas drivers can make the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the team's debut season

The defending Daytona 500 winner expects that both he and teammate Tony Stewart will be able to challenge for victory straight away when they compete in their new colors for the first time in mid-February.

"I am confident coming out of the box that we'll be a contender at the Daytona 500," said Newman.

"I feel that there are going to be some things that we'll have to learn, but I think as a group, with the U.S. Army Chevrolet, the people that we have with Tony Gibson and his group that came over from DEI, and all the other people that were there from Haas racing that we'll be competitive.

"With the Hendrick components, myself and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson, that there's no reason that we're not.

"Secondly, goal wise, our goal is for both cars to make it into the chase. Once we're in the Chase, we'll determine how much of a contender we are for the championship."

The 31-year-old won last year's Daytona 500 by passing Tony Stewart on the backstretch on the last lap, working alongside his teammate Kurt Busch who finished second. He said that if presented with the same scenario again this year on that last lap, he would obviously race differently.

"Well, if we had to do the same thing last year and replay it, I would anticipate Tony pulling up in front of my line and I would push Tony ahead, knowing that I would be his teammate," he said.

"Either way, Tony knows I'm a racer and I know he's a racer, and we'll race until the end - but we'll not sacrifice each other's performance to do that. That's the most important thing."

Newman's Daytona 500 victory was the last of 13 he claimed for Penske and his first at NASCAR's biggest race. He will start his eighth full season at NASCAR's top level with the newly-formed Stewart-Haas Racing, meaning he will not drive for Roger Penske for the first time in his career.

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