NEWMAN RALLIES TO TOP-20 FINISH AT INDY Haas Automation Driver Finishes 17th after Being Two Laps Down in Brickyard 400 Indiana native Ryan Newman staged an impressive comeback in Sunday's Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at ...
NEWMAN RALLIES TO TOP-20 FINISH AT INDY
Haas Automation Driver Finishes 17th after Being Two Laps Down in Brickyard 400
Indiana native Ryan Newman staged an impressive comeback in Sunday's Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, proving why his No. 39 Haas Automation team lives each race weekend with a never-give-up attitude.
Back-to-back flat tires early in the race trapped Newman two laps down and dropped him to as low as 39th in the 43-car field, but thanks to the team's tenaciousness, Newman was able to get back on the lead lap with 15 laps remaining and finish a respectable 17th.
"When it's not your day, it's not your day," Newman said. "We had a good strategy, stayed out under caution to get one lap back and then hopefully get in position to get the lucky dog and get back on the lead lap -- it just took a while for our strategy to pay off. I'm just proud of these Haas Automation guys and how hard they worked today. None of us gave up."
Newman's No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala started fifth in the 160-lap race. For Newman, the chain of events that would result in him having to pit on two separate occasions in as many laps for flat left-rear tires began on just the first circuit around the 2.5-mile oval. A multi-car accident in turn two just after the field had taken the green flag left numerous pieces of debris strewn across the racetrack.
After several laps of cleanup, the race restarted on lap seven. Just two laps later, Newman shot up the track at the end backstretch and narrowly kept his black and red Chevy off the turn three wall. A cut left-rear tire was the culprit, and with help from his spotter to stay out of the racing groove and drive safely onto pit road, Newman pitted for fresh left-side tires. But Newman's bad luck didn't stop there. Upon his return to the track, Newman radioed a lap later that his left-rear tire was flat once again.
Newman returned to pit road on lap 12 for another set of left-side tires. The crew also pulled out the left-rear fender, which was damaged when the tire came apart, so there would be no further issues. Newman returned to the track on lap 14 in 39th, two laps down to the leaders.
Following the second pit stop, crew chief Tony Gibson reassured his driver that everything was ok with the car and the new set of tires. The reason for the subsequent tire blowouts, Gibson told Newman, was that a piece of tire carcass from the first flat got wedged in the rear-end housing, which led to the second tire being cut when Newman returned to full speed on the racetrack.
"The original tire just blew when I was going down the backstretch," Newman told Gibson under NASCAR's competition caution at lap 15. "It didn't give me any indication that it was low or anything, so I had to have hit some debris. I definitely had my hands full there."
Unfortunately, Newman's early tire misfortunes set the tone for the day. Over the next 130 laps, Newman ran solid lap times -- times that would have easily placed him in the top-10 on the racetrack -- but getting those two lost laps back proved tedious.
When the caution flag waved at lap 139, Newman and Gibson elected to stay out to take advantage of NASCAR's "wave-around" rule, which allows any car that doesn't pit under caution its lap back if every car on the lead lap does pit. That strategy positioned Newman for the "lucky dog," which allows the first driver one lap down to get his lap back whenever the caution comes out.
Newman was in the 28th spot, the first car one lap down when the race restarted at lap 142. Finally, luck seemed to be on the side of Newman and his team as the caution flag waved yet again at lap 145.
Newman pitted for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments under the caution flag. He was back on the lead lap in 23rd-place at the lap-149 restart. Newman told his crew that he would "be digging" as hard as he could to make up for lost time on the racetrack. As soon as the green flag dropped, the South Bend, Ind., began picking up spots, gaining six positions in the final 10 laps to finish 17th.
"That's why we say we never quit," said Gibson after the race. "We all had to dig deep after getting behind early with the tire issues. I'm just really proud of Ryan and the crew because they worked their guts out today and we turned what could've been a really bad day into a top-20."
Newman's teammate, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished fifth in the Brickyard 400. It was Stewart's sixth top-five finish in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis and his fifth top-five of 2010.
With round 20 of 36 complete, Stewart remains ninth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He has 2,544 points, 376 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick and 160 points ahead of 13th-place Mark Martin. Newman gained one spot and is now 15th. He has 2,299 points and is 147 points back of 12th-place Clint Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with six races remaining before the Chase begins.
Jamie McMurray won the Brickyard 400 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Indianapolis. McMurray also won the 2010 Daytona 500, making him just the third driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season. Dale Jarrett first accomplished the feat in 1996, while Jimmie Johnson won both races in 2006.
Harvick finished 1.391 seconds behind race-winner McMurray, while Greg Biffle, Bowyer and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 25 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 1 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.