Newman, No. 39 Team Overcome Adversity at Michigan Haas Automation/U.S. Army Driver Rallies Back to Finish 15th Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army team bonded together and overcame a variety of issues with an ill-handling ...
Newman, No. 39 Team Overcome Adversity at Michigan
Haas Automation/U.S. Army Driver Rallies Back to Finish 15th
Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army team bonded together and overcame a variety of issues with an ill-handling racecar to finish 15th in Sunday's CARFAX 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It was Newman's 13th top-15 finish of the season.
"I'm not proud of our finish, but I'll take it," Newman said following the race. "For us, today was about overcoming adversity. Our car was not where we wanted it at the start of the race. It wasn't turning and we dropped pretty far back. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the crew did a great job making the calls on what to change and the pit crew did a good job, too.
"We made major chassis adjustments every stop and that cost us some track position each time we came down pit road, but the changes paid off. Then at the end, we were able to capitalize on the misfortune of some other guys running out of fuel. It wasn't an ideal day by any means, but this team shows each and every week that we're not going to get down and we're going to fight for a spot in the Chase for the Championship."
Newman started seventh for the 200-lap race and hoped that his solid starting spot would play into his favor. However, early in the race, Newman reported that his car was not turning the way he wanted it to in the corners. He complained of being loose getting into the turns and said that the car was "plowing tight in the center." Newman also said his car didn't have any grip and that he was sliding around the 2-mile oval.
The variety of handling issues caused Newman to quickly lose the valuable track position he had gained in qualifying. By lap 30, he had fallen back to 31st-place and had his hands full with an uncooperative racecar.
The No. 39 team pitted under the green flag for its first stop of the day at lap 39 and made major wedge, track bar and air pressure adjustments along with changing four tires and adding fuel.
Unfortunately, the changes made the car much looser. Despite the change, Newman was still battling with a racecar that wouldn't turn in the corners and was continuing to lose spots on the track. A caution at lap 53 provided the No. 39 team the opportunity to make wholesale changes to the racecar. The team pitted for additional air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel.
Following the first stop, Newman brought his car back down pit road for a front sway bar adjustment in hopes of helping the car turn in the corners. The additional changes seemed to help Newman's car, but by lap 100, Newman was still deep in the field, mired in 28th-place.
Over the course of the race, Newman's handling issues seemed to change. Under caution at lap 116, he told his crew that the car was "sideways loose" and that the left-rear tire didn't seem to be working. Newman told Gibson he needed to be tighter getting into and off of the turns. Under two separate but quick-falling caution flags, the team made major adjustments including a left-rear shock adjustment, adding a rubber to the left-rear, right and left-side track bar adjustments, wedge and air pressure adjustments.
After the series of major changes on pit road, Newman's car seemed to finally come to life on the racetrack. He told his crew at lap 145 that the racecar was "alright" but he didn't have anywhere to go due to his 23rd-place track position. Over the closing laps, Newman was able to gain several spots thanks to the improved handling of the racecar. He crossed the finish line in 15th-place.
Newman's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate and owner, Tony Stewart, finished 17th and remains atop the championship point standings, as his 17th-place finish expanded his lead to 284 points over second-place Jeff Gordon. By simply starting the CARFAX 400, Stewart clinched a spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship. Newman, meanwhile, maintained his ninth-place position in the standings, where he is 655 points out of first and 66 points ahead of 13th-place Brian Vickers.
Vickers beat Gordon by 1.409 seconds to win the CARFAX 400 and score the second victory of his Sprint Cup career, his first of the season and his first at Michigan. It was also the first victory for Red Bull Racing, which has competed in Sprint Cup full-time since 2007.
Finishing third was Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Carl Edwards and Sam Hornish Jr., rounded out the top-five. Casey Mears, rookie Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann and Denny Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 36 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 400-mile race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 22 Sharpie 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.