Penske Racing Trio Experience Tire Troubles at Indy

July 28, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 27, 2008) - In a race that was plagued with tire issues and "competition cautions," Penske Racing drivers Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished 13th, 21st and 40th respectively, in Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

During practice on Saturday afternoon, all the race teams began to notice that their car's right side race tires were severely worn after a few laps. When the green flag waved on Sunday afternoon, NASCAR informed the teams that there would be a "competition caution" period at lap 10 due to the tire wear issues. NASCAR also notified the teams that additional "competition cautions" may occur after teams had the opportunity to inspect tires.

Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge team Newman started third for what the Indiana native and 2008 Daytona 500 winner deemed "the second biggest race of the season." Newman overcame a blown tire and ran a smart race which helped them gain valuable points in the NASCAR standings. Newman is currently 16th in the 2008 NASCAR Cup driver point standings, a mere 144 points out of the 12th place "Chase cutoff" with six races to go until the NASCAR Chase for the Cup begins in September.

"I had to drive a smart race," said Newman. "Our Alltel Dodge wasn't the fastest race car, but it was a good consistent race car. Basically, we had 10 laps at a time to figure out our car and that's a tough task on everyone involved. We're satisfied with the finish, but it was a disappointing race. We just didn't get the chance to race it out there. We all had to play it safe and we all had to drive smart. It's just a disappointing way to have to run such a big race. But it was a good points day for us, and that's what we need right now to make the Chase."

Hornish Jr. and the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge team qualified in the 38th position and was able to persevere through extreme tire wear issues for the 160-lap event at the Brickyard to secure a 21st place finish. The No. 77 team remains 34th in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owner points standings.

"Despite all of the starts and stops, I feel that we had a really good day," said the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner. "Unfortunately, today's race was a situation where the cars and the tires did not agree with each other. I know it wasn't the race that fans were expecting, but there was a lot of action out there. It was exciting because you were on the edge of your seat hoping your tires would make it to the next caution. I'm real happy that everything went as well as it did for the Mobil 1 team today."

No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch, who started in seventh place, was already "in the conservation mode" early in Sunday's event when he spun and hit the No. 29 car and the wall, relegating him to a 40th-place finish. Busch maintains his 18th-place position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, but is 281 points out of 12th spot with only six races remaining prior to the Chase.

"We were already in the conservation mode heading to the competition yellow, " said Busch. "I saw [Kevin Harvick] had a good run on me so I moved on up the track in the corner trying to give him some room, but it snapped loose on me and when I tried to correct it, I got into his rear quarter-panel. I hate that it happened. I hate it for our Miller Lite Dodge and I really am sorry I ruined [Harvick's] day, too."

The race will go down into the history books noting that six of 11 caution flags were "competition cautions," with 52 of the 160 laps run under the caution flag. Due to the yellows, the race was slowed to a 115.117 mph average speed and it took 3 hours, 28 minutes and 29 seconds to complete.

"It was pretty weird out there today, that's for sure," said Miller Lite team crew chief Pat Tryson after the race. "I've been doing this for as long as anybody out here and it pretty much sets a precedent for anything I've ever seen. I'm confident that NASCAR and Goodyear did everything they possibly could in facing the situation we had. We just have to hold hope that there's some good that can come out of this on down the road by something like this happening."

The Penske Racing trio returns to action next Sunday afternoon, August 3, for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway The race can be seen live on ESPN at 1 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 1:15 p.m. EDT.