ENGINE FAILURE ENDS NEWMAN'S DAY EARLY IN FONTANA Haas Automation Driver Finishes 36th after Strong Run Goes Up in Smoke Engine troubles spoiled a solid top-10 run for Ryan Newman in Sunday's Auto Club 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto...
ENGINE FAILURE ENDS NEWMAN'S DAY EARLY IN FONTANA
Haas Automation Driver Finishes 36th after Strong Run Goes Up in Smoke
Engine troubles spoiled a solid top-10 run for Ryan Newman in Sunday's Auto Club 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Newman had been a fixture among the top-12 for much of the afternoon before an engine failure relegated the driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to a 36th-place finish.
"We just lost an engine," Newman said. "We had a really good car with the Haas Automation Chevrolet, but it just grenaded, basically. I couldn't tell you what happened, but it was big and there was smoke and that was the end of our day."
Just a couple of laps before Newman's engine expired, the No. 39 was at the front of the field, restarting the 250-lap race in second-place. However, Newman didn't get the restart he had hoped for as he spun the tires and fell back through the field. When he crossed the start/finish line the next time on lap 147, Newman was posted in 16th-place. He circled the track one more time and had just passed the flagstand on lap 148,when smoke billowed from the No. 39 Chevrolet. Newman came over the radio and reported he had lost an engine and was no longer under power.
"I got a horrible restart," Newman said. "I spun my tires on the restart, but didn't over-rev it or anything. The next lap, it just blew up."
It was an especially disappointing day for Newman and the No. 39 team as they were enjoying a strong run at Auto Club Speedway, the home track for the team's Oxnard Calif.-based co-owner and sponsor Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world.
Newman started the race in 18th-place, but he was quickly able to move into the top-12 where he spent much of the race's first 90 laps.
A slightly loose racecar had been Newman's biggest issue during the course of the race, but his pit crew had been able to improve those handling issues with air pressure and track bar adjustments. Crew chief Tony Gibson's calls and the team's diligent efforts in the pits paid off, and by lap 97 Newman moved into ninth-place. He ran solidly in the top-10 until his final restart on lap 146.
"We had a really good car," Newman said. "The car was good all day long. We were mixing it up, and that is really the most competitive I've been here in a long time. We were working forward every run the entire race. We showed what we are capable of out there on a couple of those long runs.
"I think we've made some big improvements as a team, and what we were doing out there today shows that. We feel like we've made some big gains as a team. This just is not how I wanted to end the race."
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished ninth. It was Stewart's first top-10 of the 2010 Sprint Cup season and his 10th top-10 in 18 career Sprint Cup starts at Fontana.
Stewart continues to lead the SHR driver lineup in the championship point race, as his ninth-place finish bumped him six spots to 17th in the standings where he is 96 points behind series leader Kevin Harvick. Newman lost two spots to fall to 36th in the standings, 215 markers arrears Harvick.
Four-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson beat Harvick by 1.523 seconds to win the Auto Club 500 and score the 48th victory of his Sprint Cup career, his first of the season and his fifth at Fontana. Johnson has now won four of the last six races at the Southern California track.
Finishing third was Jeff Burton, while Mark Martin and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Stewart and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 30 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 500-mile race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the February 28 Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.