Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), battled a tight-handling racecar throughout the second half of the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway but was able to persevere to an eighth-place finish.
“All in all, it wasn't a bad day for the State Water Heaters Chevrolet. We got another top-10 finish, which means everyone can go to Outback Steakhouse and get a free Bloomin’ Onion, and we paid 10 mortgages with Quicken Loans’ “Bring it Home” promotion.”
Newman stayed inside the top-five throughout the first half of the race, leading twice for six laps. But handling issues began to plague the No. 39 team shortly thereafter. Crew chief Matt Borland called for track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments each time Newman came to pit road, hoping to improve the handling. But Newman reported the car was getting tight in the center of the corner, and he began to fall back.
Newman continued to struggle during long green-flag runs, dropping to 12th on lap 310. When the final caution flag waved on lap 371, Borland decided to put four fresh tires on the No. 39 Chevrolet to give State Water Heaters driver Newman the best chance to make up spots. Newman lined up for the final restart in 10th and gained two spots once the green flag waved. As the field spread out, Newman fought hard to better his eighth-place position but was unable to do so before the checkered flag was displayed.
Newman’s teammate Mark Martin, interim driver of SHR’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 19th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 29th. It was Patrick’s 39th career Sprint Cup start and her third at Dover. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 12 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 17th.
Jimmie Johnson won the AAA 400 to score his 65th career Sprint Cup victory, his fifth of the season and his eighth at Dover.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished .446 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Newman, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were four caution periods for 21 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the third race of the 10-race Chase ninth among the 13 Chase drivers, 47 points behind Chase leader Kenseth. Newman gained two positions at Dover and sits seventh in the standings, 48 points behind Kenseth.