NEWMAN FIGHTS THROUGH PAIN, HANDLING WOES AT TEXAS No. 39 Team Scores 12th-Place Finish, Sits Ninth in Points Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), fought through ...
NEWMAN FIGHTS THROUGH PAIN, HANDLING WOES AT TEXAS
No. 39 Team Scores 12th-Place Finish, Sits Ninth in Points
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), fought through persistent pain as he maneuvered a loose-handling racecar to a 12th-place finish in Sunday's Dickies 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
It was Newman's 12th top-12 finish this season and his fourth top-12 result in 14 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.
"We just struggled with the car being loose on entry at the beginning of every run throughout the race, and that is what hurt us in the end," said Newman, who said he was still sore from last week's horrific crash in the closing laps at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. "Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the guys tried a lot of different things to help the car not be so loose on entry and to help me get a better run at the start of each run, but we just couldn't get the right changes. They did a great job today. I was sore all weekend, but it was good to be back in the racecar."
Following practice on Saturday, the Haas Automation/U.S. Army team made numerous changes to the No. 39 Chevy in hopes of finding a setup that would help them improve upon their 26th-place starting position. With the drop of the green flag, Newman began patiently working his way into the top-20.
Newman reported that the No. 39 machine was loose on entry into the track's corners, particularly at the beginning of the run. He also told Gibson that he needed to cut through the center of the turns better. Newman made his first green flag pit stop of the day at lap 55 for four tires, fuel and track bar and air pressure adjustments.
Back on the 1.5-mile oval and still running in the top-20, Newman once again complained of being loose at the start of a run. The loose-handling issue at the beginning of the run was hampering his efforts to gain spots on the track, but as the run wore on, the handling of the No. 39 Chevy would tighten up, which helped improve the car's overall handling.
Under caution at lap 85, Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and track bar and air pressure adjustments and then restarted the race at lap 91 in 19th-place.
By lap 150, which was shortly after the team's third pit stop of the day, Newman was running in 15th-place. As he battled for position he again told Gibson that the car's tendency to want to spin out on entry into the corners early in the run was killing his momentum and preventing him from advancing.
"I'm way too loose getting in, and then about 10 laps into a run it snugs up," Newman said. "I just need to be tighter at the start of the run, but I don't want to make it tighter throughout the course of the entire run."
Over the course of 500-mile race, Newman's crew went to work and tried a variety of air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustment combinations in hopes of finding a cure to aid the car's handling woes.
Newman's final, four-tire stop of the night came at lap 266. The crew also made another series of chassis adjustments. Newman returned to the track and was in 15th-place by the time the green-flag stops had cycled through. Gibson told his driver that they would not have enough fuel to make it to the end of the 334-lap race, so they would have to pit once more.
The team pitted at lap 318 for right-side tires and fuel and finished the race in 12th-place
"It was a tough day for Ryan because he was sore and he was battling the racecar, but he hung in there and proved how tough he is," Gibson said. "We've got two more races to try and get our first win as a team, which has been our goal all season, and that's what our focus is now."
Newman's Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate and owner, Tony Stewart, came home sixth to score his 23rd top-10 finish of 2009.
Kurt Busch stretched his fuel mileage and beat Denny Hamlin by 25.686 seconds to win the Dickies 500 and score his 20th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Texas.
Matt Kenseth finished third, while Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five. Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 26 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
Both SHR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Championship. Stewart remained fifth in the standings and is now 178 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson, who was involved in a lap three accident and finished 38th. Newman fell one spot to ninth and is 324 markers out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 15 Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. The season's penultimate race starts at 3:15 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.