Late-Race Spin Hampers Newman's Run in Sonoma; Haas Automation/U.S. Army Driver Finishes 17th at California Road Course Ryan Newman and his No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet team were victims of a late-race spin which slowed down the ...
Late-Race Spin Hampers Newman's Run in Sonoma; Haas Automation/U.S. Army Driver Finishes 17th at California Road Course
Ryan Newman and his No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet team were victims of a late-race spin which slowed down the team's march to a top-10 finish in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Newman finished 17th in his eighth start at the 1.99-mile road course.
"Unfortunately, the 77 car (Sam Hornish Jr.) just got in the back of me and just flat spun me around," Newman said. "It didn't do any damage to the car, but it left us with a lot of ground to make up there at the end. We gave it our best, but I just got too loose there in the closing laps, which cost us a few positions.
"Our Haas Automation Chevy wasn't the best car out there today, but I think it was better than our finish shows."
Newman, who qualified seventh for the first road course race of the season, battled a loose-handling racecar for much of the day. He was able to run as high as second-place early in the race despite telling his team that the series of left-right-left twisting turns known as the esses were "killing" his momentum. On the team's first pit stop which occurred under the green flag at lap 32, the pit crew made a track bar and air pressure adjustment to aid Newman's handling problems.
He returned to the track in 37th-place and although the adjustments helped somewhat, Newman continued to complain of the loose-handling condition. Because of the issue, the team elected to pit under caution at lap 52 for fresh tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
Newman continued to climb the leader board and following his final stop on lap 74, appeared to be on his way to a top-10 finish before the lap 81 contact with Hornish dashed those hopes.
By the time Newman re-fired his No. 39 Chevrolet Impala SS and returned to the track, he had fallen to 36th-place in the running order with 32 laps remaining in the race.
A caution flag at lap 83 gave Newman and his team the opportunity to pit for four fresh tires following the on-track incident. Following the caution flag, a more determined Newman returned to the track to regain his lost spots. He battled and rooted his way into the top-15, avoiding numerous spins and slower cars ahead of him. By lap 103, Newman was sitting in 12th-place, however, his ever-present loose-handling condition prevented him from holding on to the position and he fell to 17th.
"Ryan drove his butt off today," said Tony Gibson, crew chief for the No. 39 Chevrolet. "We came back from 36th-place there after the spin and had that last caution not come out, I think we would have had a top-15 finish. In the big picture, things turned out a lot better than what they could have."
Newman's Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate, Tony Stewart, finished second and continues to lead the SHR lineup in the championship point race, as his runner-up finish extended his championship points lead to 84 markers over second-place Jeff Gordon. Newman dropped one spot to sixth in the standings, 318 points back of Stewart.
Kasey Kahne won the Toyota/Save Mart 350k to score his 10th career victory, his first of 2009 and his first-ever road course win.
Stewart was .748 of a second behind Kahne, while Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Gordon and Elliott Sadler comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 20 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 113-lap race, which was extended three laps due to a green/white/checkered finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the June 28 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.