SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2007) -- Pit strategy was the key to a good finish in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Northern California and Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger, and his crew believed they had the right...
SONOMA, Calif. (June 24, 2007) -- Pit strategy was the key to a good finish in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Northern California and Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger, and his crew believed they had the right strategy going into Sunday's race.
With a pit window of 35 to 38 laps in the 110-lap race, crew chief Mike Nelson waited until lap 37 to bring Newman down pit road for his first stop of the day. The car had been handling just a tick loose in the 1.99-mile track's esses, but was running third when Newman came down for four tires, fuel and a half-round in the right-side track bar to slightly tighten the car.
Newman was making his way back up into the top 10 so when the caution flag waved on lap 67 for a spin in turn seven, Newman stayed out when most of the field came in for their second pit stop. Newman ended up fourth behind Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Robby Gordon, respectively. The teams that remained on the track believed that pitting on lap 68 would mean those cars would have to make a third stop and head to the back of the field.
For a couple of cars, like those driven by Jamie McMurray and Bobby Labonte, they did need a little extra fuel, but they chose to stay out instead of making the third stop and ended up running out of fuel on the course. However, too many of the cars that pitted on lap 68 were able to make it to the checkered flag without stopping again, which left Newman in the middle of the pack, finishing the race in 20th.
"It was unfortunate. We got beat by fuel mileage," Newman said after the race. "We did what we had to do to get to the end and that was it. Those other guys got the fuel mileage. Our strategy just didn't win the race. We got a 20th-place finish with a top-seven race car. That's disappointing."
Newman was able to move up two spots in the drivers' standings, climbing into 13th, 96 points out of the 12th spot.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger in the LENOX Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Live coverage begins at 1 p.m. EDT on TNT and MRN Radio.