NEWMAN'S BOLD MOVES LEAD TO TOP-FIVE AT FONTANA Tornados Driver Finishes Fifth at Sponsor's Home Track Ryan Newman certainly lived up to the "Bold is How We Roll" slogan written across the bumper of his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet in...
NEWMAN'S BOLD MOVES LEAD TO TOP-FIVE AT FONTANA
Tornados Driver Finishes Fifth at Sponsor's Home Track
Ryan Newman certainly lived up to the "Bold is How We Roll" slogan written across the bumper of his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet in Sunday's Pepsi Max 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. -- particularly in the last 13 laps of the 200-lap contest as he raced his was from 16th to fifth by the time the checkered flag waved.
The fifth-place finish was Newman's third top-five at the 2-mile oval and his sixth top-10 in the last seven races. It was also his first top-five effort since winning at Phoenix International Raceway in April. His worst finish in the last seven races was an 11th-place run at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Newman's daring moves on the racetrack, along with teammate Tony Stewart's victory, gave Stewart-Haas Racing's (SHR) hometown sponsors something to cheer about.
The last time both SHR cars finished in the top-five was in June 2009 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway where Stewart was victorious and Newman was fifth. The successful weekend in Southern California was even more special as Haas Automation, which SHR co-owner Gene Haas founded, is located just 108 miles west of Fontana in Oxnard, Calif. And Ruiz Foods, maker of Tornados, is located 244 miles northwest of the 2-mile oval in Dinuba, Calif.
"First off, congratulations to Tony (Stewart) and his entire team," said Newman following the race. "It was a great day for Stewart-Haas Racing. The Tornados Chevrolet was really good today. We've been pretty solid these last few races, but unfortunately, we're not a part of the Chase, but we're still out there fighting for a win every week. I'm just really proud of this team and what we've accomplished.
"As far as today, we started off tight and got it loose and then got it good at the end," Newman continued. "We had a little beating and banging there with the No. 29 car near the end of the race that caused a little bit of damage that we had to fix. We got behind but our car was strong enough to get back in the top-five."
For Newman, the tale of the early part of the day at Fontana was the handling of his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet. The Purdue University graduate, who qualified in the 14th position, battled a tight-handling racecar during the first run of the race. By the time Newman made his first green flag pit stop at lap 36, he had fallen to the 18th position.
Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure and track bar adjustments. By the time the green flag stops had cycled through, Newman had moved up to 14th-place thanks to his team's quick pit work.
It wasn't long before he told crew chief Tony Gibson that the adjustments had gone too far, as his racecar was now a little too free. When the caution flag waved at lap 52, Newman pitted for four fresh tires and fuel and another wedge adjustment to reverse some of the changes made on the previous stop. He restarted the race at lap 57 in the eighth spot.
Newman continued to battle a loose-handling condition with his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet, but despite the handling issues, he was able to hold on to his spot in the top-10 over the course of the next 100 laps. In fact, Newman was running in second-place when the caution flag came out on lap 154.
Newman told Gibson not to change a thing on his racecar as the handling was finally just right. The pit crew changed four tires, fueled the No. 39 machine and sent Newman back on the racetrack in third-place.
Unfortunately, as Newman raced for position following the restart, he and the No. 29 Chevy of Kevin Harvick got into one another, causing damage to the left-side bumper cover of the No. 39. The damage caused Newman's car to get loose on the track and he fell back to eighth-place by the time the caution waved again at lap 182.
Newman pitted under the caution period for four tires, a splash of gas and a track bar adjustment. The crew also pulled out Newman's left-rear bumper and reaffixed with tape. An issue on the right-rear of the car slowed Newman's stop, and he returned to the track in 16th-place with 13 laps remaining in the race.
Despite being mired in traffic with only a handful of laps remaining, Newman knew he had a good enough car to move back to the front of the field. In two laps, Newman did just that, moving into the top-10 with 10 laps to go. He picked up five more spots to finish fifth.
Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, won the Pepsi Max 400 to notch the 39th victory of his Sprint Cup career, his second of the season and his first at Fontana. Stewart has now scored Sprint Cup wins at all but two tracks the Sprint Cup Series currently visits -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
The win also secured the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers' Cup for Chevrolet for the 34th time since the inception of the award in 1950. Chevrolet won its first Manufacturers' Cup in 1958, and this year's win marked the eighth consecutive season that Chevrolet has captured the title (2003-2010).
Clint Bowyer finished .466 of a second behind Stewart, while Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Newman rounded out the top-five. Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and David Reutimann comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 36 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.
Stewart represents SHR in this year's Chase for the Championship. He came into Fontana 10th among the top-12 drivers competing for this year's title, 127 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His victory vaulted him to fifth in points, 107 markers arrears Johnson.
Newman remained the highest non-Chase driver in the standings at 13th, 60 points ahead of 14th-place Jamie McMurray.