U.S. Army Driver Finishes Disappointing 21st
And ill-handling racecar and an unusually long green-flag run handed Ryan Newman a disappointing 21st-place finish in the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), never could get the car to handle to his liking during the 334-lap race. With the final 234 laps being run caution free, crew chief Tony Gibson had fewer pit stops than normal to attempt different chassis setups. Only 12 cars finished on the lead lap, while Newman finished 332 of the 334 circuits around the 1.5-mile oval.
“We just couldn’t get the car where we needed it,” Newman said. “Tony Gibson and the U.S. Army crew gave it all they had, but the car just wouldn’t respond. Our U.S. Army Soldiers adapt and overcome all the time, and we’ll do the same next week when we get back on track at Kansas. Our Army Strong Soldiers don’t get down and give up, and neither do we.”
After starting sixth, it was apparent early on that Newman’s car was not performing as the team had hoped. He fell outside of the top-15 as he and several other competitors reported their cars suffered from extremely loose handling. After chassis adjustments on the first four pit stops, Newman reported the car was much improved, and hopes were high for a solid finish.
Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived as the second half of the race proved to be a challenge for Newman and Gibson. They just couldn’t find a setup that made the car a contender as the handling once again became inconsistent.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort,” Newman said. “It’s tough when the last 234 laps are caution free. You never get bunched up, and you don’t have as many chances to work on the car. Things didn’t go our way today, but we’ll be back stronger next week to complete the mission, which is winning the race.”
Newman’s SHR teammate, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy/Office Depot Chevrolet for SHR, finished 24th, also two laps down.
Greg Biffle won the Samsung Mobile 500 to score his 17th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at Texas.
Jimmie Johnson finished 3.235 seconds behind Biffle in the runner-up spot, while Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Polesitter Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were two caution periods for 10 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish.
With round seven of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is seventh with 234 points, 39 behind series leader Biffle. Newman is ninth with 225 points, 48 out of first.