Uneventful All-Star Race Leaves Newman Disappointed
Haas Automation Driver Finishes 10th in Non-Points Event
For Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation team of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway didn’t live up to their expectations.
With a $1 million payday on the line in the non-points event, Newman and his crew hoped to capitalize on strong runs of late at other intermediate racetracks, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, Newman struggled with a tight-handling racecar and track position issues for much of the 100-lap contest. He finished 10th to score his seventh top-15 finish in 10 career All-Star Races.
But we tried a couple of things tonight ...
“It just wasn’t our night,” said Newman, who won the 2002 All-Star Race in his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series. “We couldn’t quite get our Haas Automation Chevy’s handling just right, and when we did, we just didn’t have the track position we needed to go anywhere. It’s definitely not the finish we had hoped for. But we tried a couple of things tonight, and hopefully, we learned some things that can help us out next week for the Coca-Cola 600.”
Newman started the race in 10th place and quickly reported to crew chief Tony Gibson that his car was tight. By lap 10 of the race’s first 50-lap segment, Newman had dropped back to 15th place. Newman described the tight-handling racecar as feeling like “it was on three wheels.” Newman added that the car’s left front wasn’t turning or working the way that he needed it to.
Under the first mandatory pit stop of the night at lap 25, Newman’s crew changed four tires, added fuel and made air pressure and wedge adjustments in hopes of helping the car’s tight-handling condition. But just a few laps into the run, Newman reported his car was still tight, particularly in turns one and two.
At the end of the first 50-lap segment, Newman was running in 15th place. When the caution flag waved to signify the end of the segment, Newman brought his Haas Automation Chevy to the attention of his crew on pit road. The crew removed a half spring rubber from the left rear, inserted a half spring rubber in the right rear, changed four tires and added fuel.
Newman began the night’s second segment in 17th place. Eight laps into the segment Newman told his crew that the car was “better for sure” and he felt more competitive thanks to the adjustments, but that the poor track position was not helping him. Since Newman seemed to be happier with his No. 39 machine, the team opted to stay out when the caution flag waved for an accident on lap 58.
The adjustments appeared to help Newman as he quickly moved into the top-10. In three laps, Newman was eighth. However, as the laps wound down in the segment, Newman’s car got tighter and he fell to 10th.
With a 10-minute break for the teams to work on their cars, Newman and Gibson debated what changes to make. The team opted to add another half spring rubber to the right rear – since that change had improved the car earlier in the evening – and to make another air pressure adjustment in hopes of giving the car something extra for that final, 10-lap segment. Following the 10-minute recess, the team had one final, four-tire pit stop.
After one last mandatory four-tire stop, Newman restarted the final 10 laps of the race in ninth place. Newman quickly told his crew that his car was still too tight for him to gain on the field in front of him. He finished the night in 10th place.
Teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Burger King Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished fourth. It was Stewart’s fifth consecutive-top five finish in the non-points event and his ninth top-10 result in 13 career All-Star Races.
Carl Edwards won the All-Star Race. It was his first All-Star Race win and his first Sprint Cup victory at Charlotte.
Kyle Busch finished .443 of a second behind Edwards in the runner-up spot, while David Reutimann, Stewart and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing on May 29 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.