Middle of Race Costly for Newman in Season Finale; U.S. Army/Haas Automation Driver Finishes 9th in Driver Points HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 22, 2009) -- The beginning and the end were good. But it was the rest of the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway...
Middle of Race Costly for Newman in Season Finale; U.S. Army/Haas Automation Driver Finishes 9th in Driver Points
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 22, 2009) -- The beginning and the end were good. But it was the rest of the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday that caused Ryan Newman to fall to a 23rd-place finish in the final Sprint Cup event of the season.
"By no means was it the kind of performance that we anticipated in our U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala SS," said Newman. "Too many inconsistencies today, including scraping the wall before the race was half completed. We did come back strong in the end, but it was too late to get back into the top 10."
Newman started the 267-lap, 400-mile race from the seventh position and was running in the top-five early. When he came into the pits for the first time on a Lap 53 green-flag stop, he was running in fifth place.
But Newman's strong run took a turn when he brushed the wall before the race was a 100-laps old. At first, it didn't appear to be much damage to the Army/Haas Automation Chevy, but it proved to be enough to throw the car off balance and to the back of the field.
"We started off strong then got into the fence and never could get the handle back on the car," said U.S. Army crew chief Tony Gibson. "We tried to make adjustments, but took a big swing and missed. We finally got the car a lot better at the end. I feel we had a top-10 car in the beginning and a top-10 car in the end. The middle part of the race is where we struggled. Overall we had a good year, but also know that we need to get better."
Newman did indeed come on strong at the end. When the race was restarted for the final time on Lap 221, he was positioned in 30th place. His late-race charge netted him seven positions.
"We all wanted to give our Army Strong Soldiers a great result at the last race," stated Newman. "Even though we didn't, I want all of our men and women in uniform to know how much of an honor it was to drive their car this season and how much I look forward to continuing the Army ride in 2010."
Newman, who was one of the 12 Chase drivers to qualify for NASCAR's 10-race championship format, finished the season in ninth place. His 2009 record included five top fives, 15 top 10s and two poles.
Newman's Stewart-Haas teammate, Tony Stewart, finished the race 22nd and placed sixth in the final driver standings.
The Ford 400 race winner was Denny Hamlin. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson also claimed a record fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship.
The first Sprint Cup points race in 2010 will be the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14.