DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2007) -- Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, was having a top-10 day until the final 35 laps of Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Newman started the race in 14th after...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2007) -- Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, was having a top-10 day until the final 35 laps of Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Newman started the race in 14th after qualifying was rained out Friday night, leaving NASCAR to set the field based on owners' points. Within four laps, the caution flag waved for the first time, but Newman was already in the top 10.
The first 12 of 26 laps were run under yellow-flag conditions and while Newman didn't get much of a chance to get a good feel for the balance in his car during the 13 green-flag laps, he told his crew that he was "definitely on the free side". He also informed the Alltel crew that he needed more grip.
After pitting for the first time on lap 17 and receiving four tires and fuel, Newman still fought his car's loose condition. However, the car began to become tighter as the run progressed and Newman was comfortable with his race car's balance.
By lap 40, Newman was running in the top five and he was pretty happy with the car, which still needed more grip.
When the caution flag waved for the fourth of eight times on lap 57, crew chief Mike Nelson brought the Alltel Dodge down pit road for its second stop of the night.
"It's a little free in turns one and two, but good in turns three and four," Newman relayed to Nelson. "It's free in general."
In order to tighten the car, Nelson called for two rounds down on the right- side track bar along with four tires, fuel and a half-pound of air pressure removed from the left-side tires. As soon as the field received the green flag again, Newman reported the car was just a tick loose. However, after 10 laps, the car became aero tight and Newman wanted the car freed up a little on the next stop.
The field cycled through one round of green-flag pit stops and Newman came down pit road for his third stop on lap 110. To loosen the car, Nelson had the Alltel crew put two rounds of wedge in the right rear along with four tires and fuel. Once Newman returned to the track, he told his crew the car was a tick free, but soon it began to become tighter.
On lap 122, Newman -- who was running fourth at the time -- got shuffled out of line and fell back through the field, dropping out of the top 10. He fell as far back as 17th at one point and had a difficult time fighting his way through the field without any drafting help.
With 15 laps remaining, Newman fought his way back into the top 10 after avoiding David Gilliland's spinning car, but he wouldn't be able to maintain that position. When the checkered flag waved on lap 160, Newman was in the 14th position.
Jamie McMurray, who had been just behind Newman in the drivers' standings, earned his first win in five years and with the victory, McMurray moved ahead of Newman in the points. Although Newman fell to 14th in the standings, he gained ground on the 12th position. He is now only 61 points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr., who holds onto the 12th spot despite finishing 36th following a lap 14 accident.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. TNT will broadcast its final race of the 2007 season beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT. MRN Radio will also cover the race live.
Newman also will drive the No. 12 Kodak Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Busch Series race. The USG Durock 300 will be broadcast live by ABC and MRN Radio starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday.