Pocono: Ryan Newman race report

Newman Overcomes Adversity to Place Fifth at Pocono Haas Automation/U.S. Army Driver Scores Sixth Consecutive Top-10 Finish Overcoming adversity was the name of the game for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation Demo Day/U.S. Army team in...

Newman Overcomes Adversity to Place Fifth at Pocono
Haas Automation/U.S. Army Driver Scores Sixth Consecutive Top-10 Finish

Overcoming adversity was the name of the game for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Haas Automation Demo Day/U.S. Army team in Sunday's Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The team battled back after successfully trouble-shooting an engine misfire to score a fifth-place finish, which moved Newman up one spot to fourth in the championship point standings. It was Newman's sixth consecutive top-10 finish, with five of the last six race finishes being top-fives.

While the No. 39 team was happy with its hard-fought fifth-place effort, the entire Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) organization celebrated the team's first point-paying victory as Newman's teammate Tony Stewart cruised to victory in the 200-lap race. Stewart won after starting last in the 43-car field in a backup Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet. Stewart led twice for 39 laps en route to his 34th career Sprint Cup victory and first of the season. The co-owner of SHR along with Oxnard, Calif.-based Haas Automation became the first driver/owner to win a Sprint Cup race since Ricky Rudd on Sept. 27, 1998 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway -- a span of 375 races.

"Congratulations to everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing," Newman said following the race. "It was a great team effort and I'm happy to be a part of it. When you get both cars in the top-five, it's not by luck. I'm just happy we finally got the trophy here for everyone in this organization.

"And my hat's off to my Haas Automation Demo Day crew today. We had a spark plug problem, and the guys did a great job on pit road getting everything changed. We got lucky just being able to stay on the lead lap with the Haas Automation Chevrolet. It was a good run for our guys to be able to fight back."

Newman had one of the fastest cars in practice at Pocono on Saturday, however, handling issues plagued him early in the Pocono 500 and saddled him in the middle of the field. Following a pit stop at lap 78, Newman told crew chief Tony Gibson that the car's biggest problem wasn't the handling. Instead, he said that he had been experiencing an intermittent miss in the engine of the No. 39 Chevrolet. Newman said that he noticed the problem a couple of times earlier in the race, but it had continually gotten worse. As he circled the 2.5-mile triangle, Gibson and the No. 39 team began trouble-shooting the issue and attempted to diagnose the cause of the problem.

When the caution flag waved at lap 103, Newman came down pit road. The crew raised the hood and furiously worked to change the distributor cap and the plug wires in an attempt to repair the problem. While working under the hood, the team was able to determine that the problem stemmed from the number seven cylinder. But in order to stay on the lead lap, Newman had to return to the track without the repairs completed so the problem persisted.

In order for the team to get another chance at fixing the problem, Newman and the No. 39 team needed another caution. Luckily, the caution waved once more at lap 112. Newman came down pit road, and the hood of the No. 39 machine was raised once more so that the crew could replace what they had determined to be the cause of the problem -- a faulty spark plug. Following the repairs, Newman returned to the race in 28th-place, this time back under full power. With the issue resolved, Newman steadily clicked off spots from the cars in front of him.

Newman was back in the top-15 and making his move when the caution waved for debris at lap 157. He pitted for four tires and fuel. The team opted to return to pit road a second time to top off for fuel at lap 164, and they hoped the gamble would play into their hands as many other teams elected not to pit a second time. Newman restarted the race in 20th-place, but quickly regained the lost spots as he picked up seven positions alone on lap 165. In the end, the fuel gamble paid off and helped the team move into the top-five by the time the checkered flag waved.

Stewart continues to lead the SHR driver lineup in the championship point race, as his first point-paying victory maintained his spot at the top of the point standings. Stewart has a 71-point lead over second-place Jeff Gordon. Newman gained one spot as his fifth-place finish moved him to fourth in the standings. He is 203 points behind teammate Stewart.

Carl Edwards finished 2.004 seconds behind Stewart in the runner-up slot, while David Reutimann, Gordon and Newman rounded out the top-five. Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Burton and Sam Hornish Jr., comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 20 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 500-mile race.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the June 14 LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 12:30 p.m.

-credit: shr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing