Newman Earns Hard-Fought 16th Place Finish at Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the Penske Racing No. 12 Kodak Dodge team battled a loose-handling race car for more than half of the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor...
Newman Earns Hard-Fought 16th Place Finish at Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the Penske Racing No. 12 Kodak Dodge team battled a loose-handling race car for more than half of the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday. Newman's loose car caused him to go one lap down early in the running of the race, but he and the No. 12 Kodak team kept working as they battled back onto the lead lap with just 27 laps remaining in the event. Newman mounted a charge in the final stages of the race, moving up as high as 12th, but he ultimately finished in 16th place.
"We struggled with the Kodak Dodge today," Newman said following the race. "We started the race just really loose. I don't think that I ever raced a looser race car than that in my life. I fell back a bit, got back on the lead lap and finished in the top 20. It was hard work and a team effort by everyone on the 12 team to not give up that got us back on the lead lap."
Newman is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings with three races remaining in the 2008 NASCAR Cup season.
Due to inclement weather at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon, the field was set according to 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings, giving Newman the 17th-place starting position.
Early in the 325-lap race, Newman radioed his crew that the Kodak Dodge was really loose up high and tight on the bottom of the race track. When the caution flag waved at lap 35, Newman told crew chief Roy McCauley that his car was way too loose and they needed to do something to tighten it up. Newman said he could not run the high side of the 1.54-mile track at all. The pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made wedge and air pressure adjustments to the car.
Following the pit stop, Newman restarted the race in 15th place. Newman was able to make some gains on the race track early in the run, moving into the 12th spot by lap 50. However, as the run progressed, Newman said the car started getting loose once again. By lap 75, Newman said he was struggling to hang onto the car from the entry to the middle of the turns. His handling problems had caused him to lose spots on the track and drop to 20th place.
"I have never been this loose," Newman radioed his crew. "We need to make a huge change here."
Newman pitted under the green flag at lap 86. The team made substantial track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments hoping to improve the car's handling. The pit crew also changed four tires and added fuel. By the time the green flag pit stops cycled through at lap 92, Newman was sitting in 21st place.
By lap 97, Newman fell down one lap to the leaders while still running in 21st place. Newman told the crew that the Kodak Dodge was still "wicked loose."
With the race leaders setting a blistering pace on the field, Newman's goal was to try and stay near the front of the pack of lap down cars, so that he could be awarded the "Lucky Dog" free pass to get back on the lead lap should the opportunity present itself.
Over the course of the next 80 laps, Newman was able to maintain his spot. The crew also pitched in to help Newman. With each opportunity, the Kodak crew made adjustments to the car on pit lane in hopes of assisting Newman's handling problems.
By lap 170, Newman radioed his crew that his car had finally tightened up. The crew pitted under the green flag at lap 186 to work on Newman's now tight-handling car. The team changed four tires, added fuel and made a wedge adjustment. By the time the green flag pit stops had cycled through, Newman was in 22nd place, the sixth car one lap down.
But Newman and the crew refused to give up. Newman worked to find a line on the race track with each lap that suited his car's now tight-handling, and the pit crew opted to make changes to the car with each caution. Under a caution flag at lap 253, the team made yet another wedge adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel.
Newman returned to the track in 20th place for the restart at lap 256. The adjustments seemed to help Newman's Kodak Dodge as he was able to gain two spots and move into 18th place.
The team's hard work and perseverance paid off just laps later when the caution flag waved at lap 298, with Newman being shown as the first car one lap down to the leaders. Newman was granted the "Lucky Dog" free pass, which put him back on the lead lap in 18th place.
Under the caution flag, Newman brought the Kodak Dodge to pit road for four fresh tires. He restarted the race at lap 302 in the 17th spot.
With just 23 laps remaining in the race, Newman and the team tried to make the most of getting back on the lead lap. When a quick caution flag waved at lap 303, Newman returned to the pits for four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment. Newman restarted in 15th place and quickly charged up to the 12th spot.
When the final caution of the race occurred at lap 312, Newman and McCauley decided to bring the Kodak Dodge down pit road for another set of fresh tires in hopes of gaining even more spots on the track in the final 10 laps of the race. Newman restarted the race at lap 317 in 14th place as the top 11 cars stayed on the race track.
Newman jockeyed for position, moving in and out of the top 14 in the running order as the laps wound down. He ended up crossing the finish line in 16th place.
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished sixth and 24th, respectively.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday, November 2 for the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. The race can be seen live on ABC at 3 p.m. EDT and coverage on PRN Radio begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT.