Quicken Loans driver leads three times enroute to scoring 10th place finish
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 10th in the AdvoCare 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Newman struggled throughout the first 140 laps with a racecar that was tight in the center of the corners but loose on the exit. He was able to maintain his position until a well-timed caution period on lap 144. Having already been to pit road on lap 132, Newman and crew chief Matt Borland agreed to stay on the racetrack while the drivers that had not stopped under the previous caution came in for their scheduled service. The move saw Newman advance to the third position for the lap 158 restart. He would take the lead on lap 190, holding the point for 25 laps.
As long green-flag runs and varying pit strategies saw the running order constantly jumbled over the second half of the 312-lap race, Newman’s Quicken Loans Chevrolet was scored as low as 19th and as high as first on two additional occasions. While leading the race under green-flag conditions, Newman came to pit road for scheduled service on lap 274. He ran out of fuel as he entered pit road but was able to coast to his pit box.
“We had a good strategy, but we ran out of fuel coming to pit road,” Newman said. “We had an opportunity to make something of it, but running out of fuel cost us four or five spots. That was probably the difference between us finishing fifth to where we actually finished, in 10th.”
Newman was scored 19th after the miscue but was able to climb to the 10th position, where he would take the checkered flag, over the final 30 laps of the penultimate race of the 2013 season.
“Matt Borland (crew chief) and the guys worked hard to make the Quicken Loans Chevrolet better over the course of the weekend, and once we got in clean air the car was actually pretty good,” Newman said. “But track position was everything. When we had it, the car was pretty good. When we didn't, it was so hard to pass. But we got another top-10 finish, which means Quicken Loans will pay 10 more mortgages and everyone can head to Outback Steakhouse tomorrow for a free Bloomin’ Onion.”
Newman’s SHR teammate Mark Martin, interim driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 15th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 33rd. It was Patrick’s 45th career Sprint Cup start and her third at Phoenix. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 21 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 12th.
Kevin Harvick won the AdvoCare 500k to score his 23rd career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his fourth at Phoenix.
Kasey Kahne finished 1.796 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 49 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 312-lap race.
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the penultimate race of the 10-race Chase 12th among the 13 Chase drivers, 118 points behind Chase leader Johnson. Newman leaves Phoenix in 11th, 125 points behind Johnson.
Just one race remains before a champion is crowned following the Ford EcoBoost 400 Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Heading into the season finale, the top-13 Chase drivers rank as follows, with only Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Harvick eligible for the title.