By Stewart-Haas Racing
Another Disappointing Finish for Newman at Daytona
Bass Pro Shops/NRA Driver Leads Most Laps, but Finishes 23rd after Last-Lap Accident
For Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team, Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway delivered the kind of outcome they’ve come to expect in a restrictor-plate event – high hopes dashed by disappointment. In fact, the Coke Zero 400 was almost an exact replica of the team’s February outing at the 2.5-mile oval in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Once again, Newman had a strong racecar, evidenced by him leading four times for a race-high 25 laps in his No. 39 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Chevrolet Impala. But in the end, he was relegated to a 23rd-place finish thanks to being shuffled out of the lead on the race’s final restart and being collected in a last-lap accident.
“Just another typical Daytona for us,” said Newman, who led nine times for a race-high 37 laps in the Daytona 500. “It’s just disappointing to know how strong the Bass Pro Shops/NRA Chevy was tonight and how close we’ve been both times at Daytona this year to win. It’s just a product of this racing, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. Sooner or later, luck is going to go our way at this place.”
Just as he did in this year’s Daytona 500, Newman paired with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin for the new style of tandem-racing that has dominated the restrictor-plate races this season. And once again, the pair proved to be a force on the racetrack. And just like the outcome of February’s race, Newman was a mere minutes away from capturing victory at the famed Daytona track.
Newman was leading at lap 158 – just two laps from the end of the race’s regularly scheduled distance – when the caution flag waved for a multi-car accident in turn four. The caution set up the race’s first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Newman restarted in the lead on lap 162, but shortly after the green flag waved, David Ragan wrestled the point away from him – just as the caution flag flew once more as several cars crashed in turn one.
Newman restarted in second for the race’s second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish with drafting partner Hamlin lined up directly behind him in fourth. Initially, the pair looked to have a good restart, but as another drafting tandem took to the high side of the track in an attempt to take the lead, Newman’s back bumper and Hamlin’s front bumper became disengaged.
With the pair no longer bumper-to-bumper, they were shuffled deep in the pack of cars by the time they made a complete lap, which put Newman in a precarious position for the final run to the checkered flag. Inevitably, Newman got caught up in the last-lap melee as he exited turn four, but he was able to limp across the start/finish line in his heavily damaged racecar to post a 23rd-place finish.
Newman’s SHR teammate, Tony Stewart, finished 11th in his the No. 14 Burger King Chevrolet.
David Ragan won the Coke Zero 400 to score his first career Sprint Cup victory.
His Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, finished in the runner-up spot as the race ended under caution. Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 21 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 170-lap race, which was extended 10 laps due to a green-white-checkered finish.
With round 17 of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR duo in the championship point standings. He remains 10th with 498 points, 88 markers back of new series leader Harvick and three points ahead of 11th-place Denny Hamlin. Stewart maintained his 12th-place standing and now has 494 points, which puts him 92 markers back of the top spot with a 21-point cushion over 13th-place Greg Biffle.