Martinsville, Virginia


Ryan Newman's Chase Inspires Martinsville High Football Team

When Ryan Newman visited Martinsville High School as part of NASCAR’s Chase Across America tour, he found himself 16th in points and an underdog in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Ten weeks later, Newman now finds himself as one of four drivers in the Championship Round, with a chance to win the title Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The school’s football team is now using Newman as inspiration, as they too find themselves in an underdog role heading into the state playoffs.

“Where he is winless and was still able to get to the Championship Round is a big deal for us,” said Bulldogs center Harrison Toole. “We have one win. Nobody’s expecting us to go anywhere in this tournament, but yet, if we tried hard and play our best we still have a possibility of winning the championship.

Much like Newman, the Bulldogs enter the tournament as a 16th seed. Their first round game Friday night is against Giles County, the defending state champion and a team that has won 25 straight games.

“We’re taking him (Newman) and using it as an ‘anything can happen, anything’s possible,’” said Nigel Preston, the team’s nose guard. “It doesn’t matter about winning. What matters is effort and how well you play.”

Kicker Emily Martin, who beat Newman in the kicking portion of the Punt, Pass and Kick contest during his visit, said that Newman played a role in the team getting to the playoffs.

“The fact that he was the underdog and we are the underdog, we can compare ourselves to him,” she said. “We used him as inspiration to get to the playoffs, to play hard and to get the points that we needed to get there.”

While a football game only lasts four quarters, the players will take what they learned from Newman and apply it to life off the gridiron, as well.

“It goes along with life too,” Toole said. “Because if you try hard and give it your best you have a chance to go far and be the best you can, in life.”

Newman will return to Martinsville Speedway March 27-29, 2015 for the STP 500 weekend. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or visiting


(Photo: Ryan Newman talks with members of the Martinsville High School football team, during his September visit. Credit: Ken Childs)