Newman Battles to 21st Place Finish at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge team fought back from a last-place starting position and handling issues through much of the 3M Performance 400 at ...
Newman Battles to 21st Place Finish at Michigan
BROOKLYN, Mich. - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge team fought back from a last-place starting position and handling issues through much of the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Despite the setbacks, the Alltel team never gave up and worked on the car throughout the 400-mile event, finishing in 21st place.
Newman is now 17th place in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings, 211 points behind the 12th-place cutoff for the 2008 "Chase for the NASCAR Cup."
"We changed everything on the car that we could today to try and get our Alltel Dodge to drive better," said Newman after the 200-lap race. "It's not the greatest finish, but a pretty good rebound after we started dead last. We'll take this finish and head to Bristol."
Although Newman qualified in the 20th position on Friday, the Alltel team had to make an engine change during the first practice session, which relegated the No. 12 machine to the last starting position in the field of 43 cars.
When the green flag dropped on Sunday, Newman tried to make quick work to gain positions on the race track and by lap 15, he had gained seven spots and was in 36th place. At that point, Newman radioed the Alltel crew that the No. 12 was too loose-handling off the corners and was having grip issues. Following a caution period that began at lap 18, Newman pitted for track bar and air pressure adjustments, four tires and fuel.
Newman restarted at lap 25 in 35th place and was able to move up as high as 30th on the track, but had trouble holding the spot because the No. 12 was still having handling problems. At lap 50, Newman relayed to the crew that he was fighting a tight handling condition in the middle of the turns and the car was also "wicked loose" coming off the corners.
Under a green flag pit stop at lap 62, the Alltel pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made a wedge adjustment to help Newman's corner-exit condition. Newman still had issues after the stop and he remained mired in the back of the field in heavy traffic.
At lap 83, Newman was nearly involved in a multi-car accident while running three-wide with the No. 15 Chevrolet and No. 22 Toyota. Newman, who was running 31st, was on the high side nearest the wall when the No. 15 machine drove into Newman's left rear quarter panel. The contact turned Newman into the No. 22, but in a show of top-level car control, Newman was able to straighten up the No. 12 Alltel Dodge and continue on with little damage.
A caution period ensued following the on-track incident and Newman pitted. The Alltel crew changed four tires, added fuel, added a rubber to the left rear of the car and made track bar and shock adjustments. The crew also repaired damage to the fender and grille.
Newman restarted the race in 33rd place, but only a handful of laps into the run he radioed to the crew that the car remained ill-handling. A caution at lap 96 gave the Alltel crew the opportunity to make extreme changes to the No. 12 machine in hopes of helping Newman gain ground on the field. Besides four tires and fuel, the team opted to make major wedge and track bar adjustments.
The changes appeared to help Newman as he was able to move into the top 25 by lap 113, but he still encountered handling issues throughout the remainder of the race. A series of late-race cautions gave the Alltel team several opportunities to work on Newman's car in hopes of aiding his ability to get around the two-mile race track. At each chance, the team went to work, never giving up on improving the handling of the car.
Slowly, Newman was able to gain spots on the track. By the time the checkered flag waved, the No. 12 Alltel Dodge had moved into 21st place, one lap down to the leaders.
"We've got some work to do," said crew chief Roy McCauley following the race. "We had to start in the back of the field because of an engine change on Saturday during practice. Ryan did a great job compensating and getting something out of race day by finishing 21st. We'll be testing this week and see if we can improve on our package."