Loose Wheel Ends Newman's Strong Run at Las Vegas; Haas Automation Driver Relegated to 25th-Place Finish A loose left-rear wheel while running in 13th-place derailed Ryan Newman's strong run and hopes for a solid finish in Sunday's Shelby 427...
Loose Wheel Ends Newman's Strong Run at Las Vegas; Haas Automation Driver Relegated to 25th-Place Finish
A loose left-rear wheel while running in 13th-place derailed Ryan Newman's strong run and hopes for a solid finish in Sunday's Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was making a charge for the top-10 when he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop to fix the problem. Newman fell two laps off pace, relegating him to a 25th-place finish in his ninth career Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas.
However, the finish was not indicative of the car's performance for much of the 285-lap race.
"We had a fast car today," Newman said. "Even after our problems, we were running with the leaders and even gaining on them. We just had a loose wheel, and that took us out of contention. I feel confident that if we can get everything clicking with our Haas Automation team, we will be a force to deal with each and every week on the racetrack."
Newman battled a loose-handling racecar for much of the first half of the race, which lost him spots early in the event. Following the first round of green flag pit stops, Newman fell one lap down to the leaders, but he didn't give up. He battled to stay the first car one lap down, and his efforts proved worthwhile, as a timely caution led to his return to the lead lap. Thanks to his crew's air pressure and chassis adjustments to make the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy handle better on the 1.5-mile oval, Newman was once again moving up through the field and logging some of the quickest laps on the board.
But with about 100 laps remaining, Newman reported to his team that he felt a severe vibration inside the car, particularly in the corners of the tri-oval. The vibration caused Newman to fall back through the field, and it eventually became too much for him to handle. At lap 200, Newman was forced to pit under green, which dropped him two laps off the pace.
"We know we have good equipment," said crew chief Tony Gibson. "We've proven that we have fast racecars. We just have to keep plugging away at it. Eventually, one of these deals will go our way."
Tony Stewart, Newman's teammate at SHR and driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala SS, finished 26th. Stewart ran in the top-10 for much of the day before also suffering a loose left-rear wheel.
Stewart continues to lead the SHR driver lineup in the championship point race, but his 26th-place finish dropped him four spots to eighth in the standings after round three of 36. He is 80 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. Newman maintained his 33rd position in the standings, 237 markers behind Gordon.
There was an event-record 14 caution periods for 66 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 427-mile race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the March 8 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.