Newman's father still looks out for his son on the track

Heredity is a common inroad to NASCAR. Many of today's drivers and team members are sons and grandsons of men who roamed the same tracks and garage areas years ago.

But Greg Newman came in via this avenue in reverse. It wasn't his father who brought him in. It was his son.

Ryan, driver of the No. 12 Dodge for Penske Racing, has had his father on his team since running quarter midgets when he was little. Greg is the spotter for his son, but not until recently.

"We came in the sport together. When he was running open wheel cars [Silver Crown Division], he took the radio away from me. He didn't want to hear me on the radio. I was saying more than he wanted to hear, I guess," Greg said with a laugh.

"But he asked me to start doing it again a couple of years ago. I think he finally realized that I've seen a lot in 35 years of racing. I have a good eye for what's happening and what he needs to do out there."

One shining example was this year's Daytona 500. Newman ran a brilliant race down the stretch to win the Great American Race. Was it tough for Dad to remain composed?

"I knew what I had to do," he said. "I thought I did a pretty good job of holding my composure all the way through."

While there was a time when Ryan didn't appreciate fatherly advice during a race, things have changed quite a bit, Greg said.

"He won't let me be quiet now, no matter what's going on on the race track," he said. "He has to be constantly advised what's going on, whether it's how hard the wind's blowing, how far away the rain is, or who he needs to look out for behind him or ahead of him on the track."

Greg said there have been close calls out there, naming Dover as one race track where Ryan almost got into an accident.

"I don't think I've ever crashed him," he said. "There have been a few where I've saved him. Dover was one of them."

No position on the team, with the possible exception of the driver himself, is so involved in safety and communication as the spotter. To have the chance to do this job for his son has been the highlight of Greg's racing career.

"I enjoy everything I do every weekend with Ryan," he said. "It's like living a dream. The worst part of the job is when we don't have a good car and we're going backwards."