CLOSING LAPS NOT KIND TO NEWMAN AT TEXAS Tornados Driver Has To Settle for 20th-Place Finish in AAA Texas 500 Ryan Newman overcame an unscheduled, green-flag pit stop in the early stages of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at...
CLOSING LAPS NOT KIND TO NEWMAN AT TEXAS
Tornados Driver Has To Settle for 20th-Place Finish in AAA Texas 500
Ryan Newman overcame an unscheduled, green-flag pit stop in the early stages of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and, thanks to diligent pit work by his No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet crew for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), found himself in position for his first top-10 finish in the last five races.
But, after opting to stay on track during the final caution period just three laps from the race's conclusion, Newman, who restarted in eighth place, lost track position to a slew of competitors who pitted for fresh tires, forcing him to settle for a 20th-place finish.
Newman qualified 14th for Sunday's 334-lap race around the 1.5-mile Texas oval, but had to battle a tight racecar in the opening laps. He fell back to 19th by the time he pitted for tires, fuel and air-pressure and wedge adjustments while under caution on lap 12. Now back in 22nd place, Newman found the initial changes made his Tornados Chevrolet just a bit too loose. Still, he was able to make forward progress during the run, working his way up to 17th by lap 55.
It was then, however, that Newman radioed to his crew that his safety belts had come undone. He pitted immediately to secure his belts, took on four fresh tires, and rejoined the race in 33rd place.
From there, Newman worked his way into the top-20 as he and the rest of the field cycled through green-flag pit stops shortly after the 100-lap mark. The day's fourth caution appeared on lap 131 and, with Newman reporting that his Tornados Chevrolet was still slightly tight, he pitted for tires, fuel and further adjustments. Quick pit work by his crew improved his position from 18th to 13th when the race restarted on lap 136.
With his car now turning some of the fastest laps of the race, Newman continued a forward march that saw him crack the top-10 for the first time on lap 142, and climb as high as seventh by lap 175.
As darkness began to fall on Texas Motor Speedway, Newman had to begin dealing with a loose condition that kept him from making further forward progress. Nonetheless, he continued to hover close to the 10th position as the race motored toward its conclusion.
He worked his way back up to eighth when the final caution of the race appeared on lap 327. But, trying to fight for a top-10 finishing position proved to be too difficult a task on tires he had been racing on since last pitting on lap 287.
Newman's SHR teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, finished 11th.
Denny Hamlin won the AAA Texas 500 to earn his 16th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-high eighth win of the season, and his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 11 Sprint Cup races at Texas. Hamlin also won the April Sprint Cup race at Texas and became only the second driver to sweep both Texas races in the same year. Carl Edwards won both Texas races in 2008.
Matt Kenseth crossed the finish line .488 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Mark Martin, Joey Logano and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 40 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
Stewart represents SHR in this year's Chase for the Championship. He came to Texas seventh among the top-12 drivers competing for this year's title, 317 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His 11th-place finish dropped him one position to eighth in the standings, where he is now 363 points arrears new Chase-leader Hamlin.
Newman maintained his 15th spot in the standings, the third-highest non-Chase driver, 121 points behind 13th-place Martin.