Chicagoland: Ryan Newman race report

NEWMAN ENDURES DISAPPOINTING NIGHT AT CHICAGOLAND Ill-Handling Racecar Leads to 22nd-Place Finish for Haas Automation Driver Ryan Newman struggled with an ill-handling racecar for much of Saturday night's 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup...

Ill-Handling Racecar Leads to 22nd-Place Finish for Haas Automation Driver

Ryan Newman struggled with an ill-handling racecar for much of Saturday night's 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., resulting in a disappointing 22nd-place finish.

Like a pendulum, the handling of Newman's No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet swung from one end of the spectrum to the other during the course of the 267-lap race, as the it went from loose during the early stages of the race to tight in the middle part of the event and then back to loose in the closing laps.

"That's definitely not the kind of night that we wanted," said Newman, who fell one spot to 16th in the championship point standings, where he's now 99 points outside of the 12-driver cutoff for the Chase for the Championship. "We didn't ever get a good handle on the Haas Automation Chevy tonight. We went from too loose to too tight to too loose. It just didn't work out for us."

Newman qualified deeper in the field than he had expected, and started Saturday night's race in 19th position. However, the team felt they had learned a lot in practice on Friday that would help them in the race, and they were confident that Newman would be able to continue his streak of top-10 finishes at Chicagoland, which stood at three entering the 400.

The handling issues began early for Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation team. By lap 20, Newman told crew chief Tony Gibson that his car was a little too free and it was getting looser as the run went on. A caution flag at lap 38 gave the crew its first opportunity to work on the loose-handling racecar, which was running in the 20th position. The pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made track bar and air pressure adjustments. Newman restarted the race in 19th place at lap 43.

The adjustments appeared to help Newman's efforts during the early stages of the run, but by lap 70 he told Gibson that the car was once again "really loose." Newman explained to his crew chief that the car was so loose that it felt like it was "jumping sideways in the middle of the turn." The car's loose-handling condition caused Newman to fall back in the running order to 23rd.

At lap 92, Newman made his first green flag pit stop of the night. He took on four tires, fuel and the team made wedge and air pressure adjustments in hopes of improving the car's handling. Again just a handful of laps later, Newman radioed his crew and said the changes had not helped his racecar enough. The No. 39 Chevy was still way too loose.

The handling issues continued to hamper Newman's progress on the racetrack and by lap 115, he was in 24th place and fell one lap down to the leaders. However, a timely debris caution helped Newman get back on the lead lap, and under the caution flag Newman told his crew that the loose racecar was preventing him from exiting the turns the way that he wanted, which in turn hampered him on the straightaways.

Newman came to pit road under the caution flag and once again, the pit crew went to work in hopes of improving the No. 39 machine. The crew placed a half rubber in the left rear, made a track bar adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel. Newman restarted the race at lap 135 in 24th.

The changes appeared to work as Newman reported the loose handling condition was fixed. However, as the laps ticked off the board, Newman's car began shifting and by lap 160, he was now fighting a tight racecar though the turns. Again, Newman's crew went into action to formulate a plan to help the now tight-handling racecar. Newman pitted under caution at lap 183, and the team changed four tires, added fuel and made a wedge adjustment. Newman returned to the track in 21st.

On the lap-188 restart, Newman jumped from 21st to 18th in one lap, but his tight-handling condition persisted and forward progress stalled.

At lap 232, the team made its final pit stop of the night. Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and wedge and air pressure adjustments. Unfortunately, the adjustments drastically changed the handling of the racecar as the car's balance went from being too tight to being "the loosest (the racecar) had been all night."

The No. 39 machine became a handful on the racetrack in the closing laps, as it was once again nearly sideways in the corners. Newman slid back a few spots before stabilizing in 22nd place, where he finished the race.

Newman's teammate, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice "Back to School" Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished ninth. It was Stewart's eighth top-10 finish in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Chicagoland and his ninth top-10 of 2010.

With round 19 of 36 complete, Stewart remained ninth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He has 2,389 points and is 356 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick and 118 points ahead of 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr., the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase with seven races remaining before the Chase begins.

David Reutimann won the 400 to score his second Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Chicagoland. Reutimann's only other victory came in the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, which was rain-shortened, with only 227 of the 400 scheduled laps completed.

Carl Edwards finished .727 of a second behind race winner Reutimann, while Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Stewart and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were four caution periods for 21 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.

The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the July 25 Brickyard 400.

-source: shr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing