By Stewart-Haas Racting
Early Accident Causes Long Day for Newman in Sonoma
Haas Automation Driver Finishes Disappointing 25th at Infineon Raceway
Anytime the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to either Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., or Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International – the two road course events on the 36-race schedule – there are usually a few drivers who leave angry and a few racecars that are battered and beaten.
Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet was one of the battered and beaten machines being loaded into the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) transporter after he brought it home to a 25th-place finish in the 110-lap race around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course.
Newman started fifth at Infineon and was in the top-five for the race’s first 25 laps.
But on lap 38 while entering the final turn on the course – a treacherous hairpin that claimed many victims – Newman was caught up in a multi-car accident that all but ended his chance of victory.
During the accident, Newman spun in the middle of the corner and managed to stay away from the outside retaining wall. But as he was about to put the car in gear and begin driving forward, his Haas Automation Chevy was hit by another car attempting to dodge the melee.
The contact caused moderate damage to the front end of Newman’s machine and he was forced to make consecutive pit stops under green so crew chief Tony Gibson and the rest of the SHR crew could fix the damage.
Newman would crack the top-five later in the race as green-flag pit stops jumbled the running order, but with his No. 39 ride lacking rear grip, he wasn’t able to make any substantive charge on the leaders.
His SHR teammate, Tony Stewart, finished 39th. The driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala rallied from his 20th-place starting spot to take the lead on lap 72 where he paced the field for three laps. He was a contender for his third career win at Infineon and eighth on a road course until Brian Vickers punted Stewart into the final corner’s tire barrier on lap 88. The contact resulted in Stewart’s first DNF (Did Not Finish) in 25 career road course races. Prior to Sunday, he had a lap completion rate of 100 percent.
Kurt Busch won the Toyota/Save Mart 350k to score his 23rd career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season, his first at Infineon and his first on a road course.
Jeff Gordon finished 2.685 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-five. Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 17 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 110-lap race.
With round 16 of 36 complete, Newman currently leads the SHR duo in the championship point standings. He lost two spots and now sits 10th with 475 points, 98 markers back of series leader Edwards and 12 points ahead of 11th-place Denny Hamlin. Stewart dropped one position to 12th. He has 460 points and is 113 markers back of the top spot and 14 points ahead of 13th-place Greg Biffle.