PIT ROAD PROVES TO BE THE PITS FOR NEWMAN AT CHARLOTTE No. 39 Team Battles to 11th-Place Finish, Moves Up to Eighth in Points Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 TRANSFORMERS: Revenge of the Fallen Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing ...
PIT ROAD PROVES TO BE THE PITS FOR NEWMAN AT CHARLOTTE
No. 39 Team Battles to 11th-Place Finish, Moves Up to Eighth in Points
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 TRANSFORMERS: Revenge of the Fallen Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 11th after battling back from pit road issues that cost the team valuable track position during Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C.
It was Newman's 20th top-15 finish this season and his eighth top-15 result in 18 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte.
"We had a good car," said Newman following the 334-lap race. "The Transformers Chevrolet was doing pretty well, but we really struggled in the pits tonight. It's just disappointing. I thought we should've finished better than that. We had a better car than that."
After securing the sixth-place starting spot in qualifying on Thursday night, Newman and the team felt confident they could transform their best qualifying effort in recent weeks into a solid finish in the 500-mile race.
Early in the race, Newman told his crew that his car was loose getting into the corners and tight through the center and coming off the turns. Under caution at lap 35, the Transformers pit crew opted to change just right-side tires while adding fuel and making a track bar adjustment. The team wanted to see how the car would react to two fresh tires, which could potentially come into play later in the race. Newman returned to the track in fifth-place for the restart on lap 43.
He initially slid back a few spots with just two fresh tires, but by lap 65 he had stabilized in the 10th-spot. Newman reported that he still had the same problem and that he needed help with his entry into the corners as well as the center of the turns. The team had their next opportunity to help Newman with his car's handling condition when they pitted under the green flag at lap 91 for four fresh tires, fuel and wedge and air pressure adjustments. However, a problem with a lugnut on the left-front tire led to an extra long stop in the pits. By the time the green flag pit stops cycled around, Newman had fallen from 10th to 19th-place.
Newman tried to gain the lost spots on the track, but his tight-handling racecar impeded his progress. When the caution flag waved at lap 119, the No. 39 team opted to pit for just right-side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment in hopes of regaining the valuable track position that they had lost earlier in the pits. The pit call worked, as Newman restarted the race in the third spot.
During the next 100 laps, Newman who was running consistently in the top-10, complained that the car was getting tight. At each opportunity, the team worked to loosen the car up with wedge, air-pressure and track-bar adjustments.
By lap 225, Newman reported his car's tightness had subsided, but now the No. 39 Chevy was on the other end of the handling spectrum -- it was now too loose off the corners. Newman couldn't push his car the way he wanted, thus keeping him from making up ground on those in front of him. Still in the top-10, Newman pitted under green at lap 245 for a track bar adjustment, four tires and fuel.
Unfortunately, a second slow pit stop put Newman in 17th-place when the pit stops cycled through.
Again, Newman worked to regain the lost ground on the racetrack, but the car was still too loose for his liking. Although the team pitted twice more, Newman continued to hustle a loose-handling racecar until the checkered flag fell. In the end, he was to gain a few spots and finish 11th.
Newman's Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate and owner, Tony Stewart, came home 13th to score his 24th top-15 finish of 2009.
Jimmie Johnson beat Matt Kenseth by 2.303 seconds to win the NASCAR Banking 500 and score his 46th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-leading sixth of the season and his sixth at Charlotte. The three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion is now tied with two-time Sprint Cup titlist Buck Baker for 13th on the all-time win list for NASCAR's top division.
Kasey Kahne finished third, while Jeff Gordon and rookie Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 42 laps with four drivers failing to finish the race.
Both SHR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Championship. Stewart remained fourth in the standings, but is now 155 points behind Chase leader Johnson. Newman climbed two spots to eighth and is 288 markers out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Oct. 25 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.