Newman Struggles with Grip Issues, Finishes 28th at Texas FORT WORTH, Texas (November 2, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge fought grip issues throughout the course of the Dickies 500 on Sunday afternoon at Texas...
Newman Struggles with Grip Issues, Finishes 28th at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 2, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge fought grip issues throughout the course of the Dickies 500 on Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. Despite making numerous air pressure and chassis adjustments throughout the course of the event, Newman battled with a race car that seemed to slide around the 1.5-mile oval. Newman finished 28th, three laps down to the leader.
With two races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series season, Newman is currently 16th in the 2008 driver point standings.
"We just couldn't seem to make the car go today," said Newman, who complained that his car had no grip, meaning that the car wouldn't stick to the track and felt like it was sliding around for most of the day. "The car's balance was never really bad, I just had no grip, and when you don't have grip you really can't manipulate the race car and make it go where you need to in order to gain spots."
On Friday, Newman qualified 31st at Texas Motor Speedway, so the Alltel team knew that they would have their work cut out for them to make up ground in the 334-lap race.
Twenty laps after the green flag dropped, Newman reported to Alltel team crew chief Roy McCauley that the No. 12 machine was loose getting into the turns. But despite being loose, Newman's biggest issue was that he had no grip. The "slip-sliding" of the race car caused Newman to fall back in the field to 29th place by lap 50.
Newman's Alltel pit crew had their first opportunity to work on the No. 12 at lap 50 when green flag pit stops began. Newman pitted for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment to the left rear tire and a track bar adjustment. After the pit stops cycled through, Newman was shown in 28th place.
Just six laps after Newman pitted under the green flag, the first caution flag of the day waved. Newman told his crew that the car was still too loose. The team elected to pit again for a wedge adjustment, in hopes of tightening up the race car. The pit crew also changed four tires and added fuel. Newman restarted the race at lap 64 in 19th place.
But Newman was unable to hold onto his top-20 spot for very long. In just a matter of 10 laps, Newman had fallen back to 25th place. Once again, Newman reported that his grip problem had not improved. However, the car was now tight through the center and coming off of the turns.
The Alltel crew began working on a plan in hopes of helping the car's grip issues, but they didn't have the opportunity to make any more adjustments to the car before Newman went down one lap to the leaders at lap 104.
At lap 112, Newman brought the Alltel Dodge to pit road for the second green flag pit stop of the afternoon. The team made an air pressure adjustment to the left rear and right rear tires, which was supposed to help the grip problems. The team also made a wedge adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel. When the stops had cycled through at lap 118, Newman was shown in 27th place, one lap down to the leaders.
The new tire air pressures seemed to improve Newman's lap times on the next run, but he still complained that the car had no grip. In an effort to continue improving the lap times, the team opted to reduce tire air pressures at the next pit stop.
The team had the opportunity to pit and to continue their work on the Alltel Dodge when the caution flag waved at lap 143. Newman told his team that he still had "no grip, but that his balance was fine." The team elected to make another air pressure adjustment to the right side tires, change four tires and add fuel. Newman returned to the track in 27th place for the restart at lap 148.
As the race continued, Newman's predominant problem continued to be the lack of grip. At each pit stop, the Alltel team tried various air pressure and chassis adjustment combinations to aid Newman's problem, but nothing seemed to help the car to stick to the race track any better.
The leaders continued to set a blistering pace on the race track, resulting in Newman being posted three laps down. He finished the 334-lap event in 28th place.
Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished 23rd and 41st, respectively.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday, November 9, at the Phoenix International Raceway. The race can be seen live on the ABC television network at 3 p.m. EST and heard on the MRN radio network at 2:45 p.m. EST.