TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 7, 2007) -- Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger, had a great run going at Talladega Superspeedway in the first Car of Tomorrow race at the superspeedway and ended it with a fifth-place finish in Sunday's ...
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 7, 2007) -- Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger, had a great run going at Talladega Superspeedway in the first Car of Tomorrow race at the superspeedway and ended it with a fifth-place finish in Sunday's UAW-Ford 500.
Newman qualified 16th for the 500-mile race and quickly made his way into the top 10, where he hung around for the first few laps. Newman's only adjustment in the race came during the first caution period after John Andretti hit the wall, bringing out the yellow flag on lap 18. Newman radioed into his crew that his car was "maybe just a tick on the tight side, but the car feels competitive."
Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and one round of wedge out of the left rear. Many cars took two tires only, which left Newman back in 17th when the green flag was once again displayed on lap 23.
For the next 36 laps, Newman hung around in the middle of the pack as the entire field traveled single file around the 2.66-mile track until green-flag pit stops began; Newman made his green-flag stop on lap 60 for four tires and fuel.
Newman was still riding around in the middle of the field when the yellow flag came out again on lap 93.
"Everything's OK," Newman relayed. "There's just nowhere to go."
Newman pitted on lap 95 for right-side tires and fuel. On his way out of his pit stall, the jackman for Dale Earnhardt Jr. failed to move out of the way and Newman hit the jack with his left-rear tire, which caused a chunk of the Goodyear Eagles to tear off. Newman came back down pit road on the next lap to allow the Alltel Dodge team to check for any damage to the car and change left-side tires. The car was fine, but the tires were cut to the chords.
Newman restarted in 29th and eventually lost the lead draft in order to run with the back group of cars, which included most of the Roush, Hendrick and Yates cars. Newman was leading that group and catching up to the lead pack when the engine in Martin Truex Jr.'s car expired, bringing out the fourth of nine yellow flags.
There would be more trouble on pit road when Newman came down for right-side tires and fuel on lap 115. As the front-tire carrier, Scott Reiniger, was running around to the car's right side, a tire off the rear of Earnhardt Jr.'s car hit the wall and bounced back into the path of the Alltel Dodge, knocking Reiniger into the front end of Newman's car. Reiniger was able to recover, complete the stop and escape injury, but the team was very unhappy with the negligence of Earnhardt Jr.'s crew. Alltel crew chief Mike Nelson had a NASCAR official and Tony Eury Jr., crew chief for Earnhardt Jr., warn the team to be careful with its equipment and keep it out of the way of the Alltel Dodge team.
The No. 8 team would no longer be a problem for Newman and his crew when the engine blew on Earnhardt Jr.'s car on lap 136, bringing out the fifth yellow flag. Newman was running 10th when the caution period began and after taking left-side tires and fuel on lap 139, he restarted in fifth.
In one lap, Newman moved up to fourth, which was a good thing when the big one hit on lap 145. It started with Bobby Labonte, whom Newman had just passed for fourth. Labonte lost control of his car, spun to the inside, then shot back up the track, collecting 10 cars in the melee.
The Alltel Dodge was four laps short on fuel and Nelson had Newman come down to top off with fuel on lap 147. When Newman restarted in fourth on lap 151, he and teammate Kurt Busch worked together, and by the time they had completed the circuit around the Alabama track, Newman was in the lead, having passed Tony Stewart for the top spot. Newman led two laps before Stewart regained the lead and the yellow came out again.
For the next 21 laps, Newman rode around in second with Busch on his bumper and two fellow Dodges right behind them, waiting to make their move.
That move came on lap 175 when Busch helped push Newman to the top spot once again, just before the final caution came out for a four-car pileup.
Newman held onto the lead for eight laps before Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson began making their move to the front. Stewart, who was bump drafting just behind Busch, moved to the outside and left Newman and Busch high-and-dry in the middle while Johnson and Gordon leading a pack of cars on the bottom of the track.
With five laps remaining, Newman bounced from seventh to third and finally took the checkered flag in fifth, just one-thousandth of a second behind fourth-place Denny Hamlin.
The finish gave Newman two top-10 finishes at Talladega Superspeedway in 2007 and his third top-five finish of the season. Newman has 11 top-10 finishes this year.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The Saturday night race will be broadcast by ABC and PRN radio live beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.