HOMESTEAD, Fla., (Nov. 18, 2007) -- The 2007 season did not end the way Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, had hoped it would during Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After qualifying second for the 267-lap...
HOMESTEAD, Fla., (Nov. 18, 2007) -- The 2007 season did not end the way Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, had hoped it would during Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After qualifying second for the 267-lap race, Newman started strong, taking the lead away from pole sitter -- and eventual champion -- Jimmie Johnson on the second lap and leading two laps before eventual race-winner Matt Kenseth took the top spot from Newman on lap four.
Newman's car was a tick free, but he held on to the second position for quite a few laps before teammate Kurt Busch passed him for the No. 2 position on lap 24. By this time, Newman's car was tight in the center, which would be a problem for Newman during most of the race.
The car kept getting tighter and Newman was about to make his first stop of the day under the green flag when the yellow waved due to an incident at the pit road entrance. Newman was able to take the lead again and pit under yellow after half of the lead-lap cars had pitted under green.
Newman relinquished the lead on lap 54 when he pitted for four tires, fuel and one round up on the right-side track bar. The 12.90-second stop put Newman back onto the track in third. Kenseth and Busch were in front of Newman when the green flag dropped, even though Newman believed Kenseth was behind him when the yellow flag waved. He thought Kenseth should have been at the tail-end of the lead lap. NASCAR disagreed with Newman.
The Alltel Dodge was still tight during the next run, but it wouldn't be long before another caution allowed Newman to pit again for four tires and fuel. Newman had radioed to his crew that the car's balance was OK, so no adjustments were made to the car.
Newman restarted fifth on lap 82, but quickly moved up to third, which he held on to despite the car being even tighter than before.
"It's the tightest I've been," Newman informed his crew on lap 107.
Crew chief Mike Nelson copied Newman and relayed to him that the next changes would be three rounds up on the right-side track bar to free up the car a great deal.
Newman finally made his first green-flag pit stop of the day on lap 132 for tires, fuel and the track bar adjustment. The Alltel crew was able to get Newman out of the pits in 13.16 seconds and Newman remained on the lead lap throughout the cycle of green flag stops.
Once everything cycled through, Newman was in fourth, but now the car was way too loose and Newman began losing spots as he struggled to hold onto his car.
The problem grew worse and on lap 149 Newman lost control of his car and spun into the grass, causing damage to the car's valance and right-rear quarter panel.
Although Newman didn't lose a lap during repairs to his car, he fell back to 19th and was never able to recover.
The highest Newman would climb after the accident was 15th, but the car was still too loose and he fell back to 18th in a few short laps.
Newman would continue to hover inside the top 20, eventually finishing 18th, one lap down to Kenseth.
With the 2007 season over, Newman remained 13th in the drivers' standings, the highest position possible for a non-Chase contender.