CONCORD, N.C. (May 27, 2007) -- Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, did not have the end to his Coca-Cola 600 weekend that he had expected. After qualifying on the Bud Pole Thursday night and being in the top-three in both of...
CONCORD, N.C. (May 27, 2007) -- Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, did not have the end to his Coca-Cola 600 weekend that he had expected.
After qualifying on the Bud Pole Thursday night and being in the top-three in both of Saturday's practice sessions, Newman was only able to lead 10 laps in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway before problems began.
Newman's car was free at the beginning of the season's longest race, but the car seemed to be tightening up for Newman. However, the car tightened up too much and Newman began quickly falling back through the field. Crew chief Mike Nelson and Newman discussed possible changes to free up the car before the first caution flag waved on lap 47, allowing the Alltel Dodge to come down pit road for necessary adjustments.
The Alltel crew put four fresh tires and fuel in the car, took a left rear rubber out and also took two rounds of wedge out of the left rear. The long stop only caused Newman to lose one spot on pit road, but it would be quite a few laps before he could actually try out the changes, since the caution flags waved frequently.
On lap 53, a 13-car crash brought out the second caution after only one green flag lap. The same thing happened on lap 62 when Jeff Gordon and two other cars crashed after taking the green on lap 61.
The field received the green flag again on lap 70 and this time they were able to race. Newman restarted in sixth, and made his way into the top five on the next lap, where he stayed until the fourth of 13 caution flags despite fighting the car's tight condition again. The tightness would not go away from the Alltel Dodge no matter what adjustments the crew made.
After a second stop for fuel and three rounds up on the right side track bar, the car was still really tight and Newman radioed to his crew that he wanted a significant bite change because the car was too tight. On lap 112, the tightness caused Newman to fall from the top 10 for the first time in the event.
Newman made his only green-flag stop on lap 128 for four tires, fuel, two rounds of wedge in the right rear and two rounds of wedge out of the left rear. The stop caused Newman to come back onto the track in the 25th position and also to lose a lap.
Now, the car was too loose, but it seemed as if things might be getting better for Newman when the fifth caution flag waved on lap 140. Newman was able to come in for more adjustments. After deciding to go back on previous changes, Nelson called for fuel, 1.5 rounds of wedge in the left rear and one round out of the right side track bar. Newman restarted 18th and was making his way back towards the top 10 when the Alltel Dodge's tires started chattering and the car tightened up, again.
On lap 169, the sixth yellow appeared and Newman was the recipient of the Lucky Dog Award. Nelson told Newman to think about the changes he needed since they had plenty of time to fix the car before getting back to racing on the lead lap. However, a fourth-consecutive top-10 finish was not to be for Newman, who radioed his crew that his car's engine was blowing up. The oil pressure gauges didn't show a problem, but there were plumes of smoke coming out of the car. Newman and Nelson debated whether to run the car and finish a few more laps before the engine gave out completely, but NASCAR told Newman to take the car to the garage.
Engine tuner John Payne disassembled the engine to find the cause of the trouble and found a valve was the source.
Newman ended up 39th and fell five spots in the drivers' standings to 18th, 707 points behind leader Jeff Gordon and 106 points out of the 12th position.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger in the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa at Dover International Speedway. FOX and MRN Radio will broadcast the race live beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.