Engine Woes Hamper Newman's Effort in Atlanta; Haas Automation Driver Finishes 22nd in Kobalt Tools 500 Ryan Newman ran solidly in the top-15 for most of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in ...
Engine Woes Hamper Newman's Effort in Atlanta; Haas Automation Driver Finishes 22nd in Kobalt Tools 500
Ryan Newman ran solidly in the top-15 for most of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., but engine issues during the final 100 laps of the event slowed down his No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala SS and thwarted his team's march to a top-10 result. Newman was relegated to a 22nd-place finish in his 15th career Sprint Cup start at the 1.54-mile oval.
"Our Haas Automation Chevy was pretty good today," said Newman after the race. "We had some handling issues, but Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the guys adjusted on the car and gave me a really competitive machine.
"At the end, I think we maybe had a top-10 car, but we lost a cylinder and that put us behind. We were right in cycle to be the next guy for the 'lucky dog' and we just lost that cylinder and that set the tone for the rest of our day."
With the drop of the green flag, Newman showed just how strong his No. 39 Chevrolet was by passing four cars on the first lap. At lap 13, the second caution of the day waved and Newman radioed Gibson that his car was just a little too tight. He pitted for right side tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment and returned to the track in first place. Newman proceeded to lead three laps -- the first laps he has led in the No. 39 Chevy with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
As the run progressed, Newman battled a loose-handling racecar. It was so loose that he actually hit the wall twice during the course of the run.
Newman pitted under the green flag at lap 65 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure and chassis adjustment to help the car's handling. However, an untimely caution flag once Newman returned to the track put the No. 39 team in 17th-place and on the tail-end of the cars one lap down.
Over the course of the next run, Newman was able to hold the leaders off and move into the group of cars just one lap down. He continued to fight handling issues and the team continued to make adjustments to improve the car. By lap 221, Newman had made his way to the front of the lap down cars in 13th-place. He was the next in line to get his lap back when problems struck the No. 39 Haas Automation team.
At lap 225, Newman radioed his crew that he had an engine problem, as his V-8 powerplant had missed several times as he drove down the backstretch, ultimately dropping a cylinder. Newman was able to nurse the engine and maintain a spot in the top-20 until the final caution flag of the day waved at lap 321.
Under the caution, Newman reported that the motor had lost yet another cylinder. On the final restart, he couldn't get his car up to speed quickly enough and lost four more spots, whereupon he finished 22nd, three laps down.
Tony Stewart, Newman's teammate at SHR and driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala SS, finished eighth. Stewart battled back from being two laps down to finish eighth and score his third top-10 finish of the year.
Stewart continues to lead SHR in the championship point race, as his eighth-place finish bumped him up two spots to sixth in the standings after round four of 36. Newman gained one spot to climb to 32nd in the standings. Stewart is 113 markers arrears series leader Jeff Gordon, while Newman is 310 points out of first.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before heading to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the March 22 Food City 500.