Tire Problem Derails Newman's Effort at Martinsville

October 19, 2008

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 19, 2008) - Ryan Newman, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, ran as high as second place and solidly in the top 15 for more than half of the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

However, Newman blew a right front tire at lap 332 which caused him to slap the wall in turn four. He was forced to pit under the green flag and fell two laps down to the leaders as a result. Newman was never able to make up the lost laps at the .526-mile oval and he finished the afternoon in 23rd place.

With four races remaining in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series season, Newman is 17th in the driver point standings.

 "We fought a tight-handling race car all day, but we were working on it and it seemed to be getting better with the track bar adjustments that we were making each stop," Newman said. "But when we blew the tire, that pretty much ended our day. It was a disappointing afternoon for the Alltel Dodge team."

Inclement weather rained out qualifying at Martinsville Speedway on Friday afternoon, so the field was set by the 2008 owner points. The No. 12 Alltel Dodge took the green flag in 16th place.

A tight-handling race car caused Newman to fall two positions early in the race. When the first caution of the race waved at lap 30, Newman told crew chief Roy McCauley that they "needed to work on (the race car)." Newman, who was in 18th place, told his team that the car was real tight from the center off the turns.

Newman brought the Alltel Dodge to the pit crew's attention for right side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. With a variety of pit strategies playing out, Newman restarted the race in 21st place.

Following the changes, Newman was able to make up some ground on the field. He gained two spots and moved into 19th place. When the second caution came out at lap 60, Newman told his crew that the car was still too tight in the center and exit of the turns.

Although Newman was still battling the handling of the car, the team elected to stay on the track to gain valuable position. With most of the cars in front of Newman pitting, he restarted at lap 67 running in second place.

Newman was able to hold on to the second position until lap 105, when eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson, running with fresher tires, overtook him for the second spot.

When the fifth caution of the day was displayed at lap 115, Newman was sitting in sixth place. Newman told the team that he still needed help with the car's tight-handling condition. The No. 12 crew changed four tires, added fuel and made air pressure and track bar adjustments. Since Newman was off sequence with his pit stops, he restarted in 19th place at lap 121.

Once again, the adjustments appeared to help Newman as he was able to patiently gain spots on the tight paperclip-shaped race track. By lap 160, Newman was running in 14th place.

Just two laps later, the caution was displayed once again. Newman told his crew that the car was "okay."  The team elected to pit for four tires and fuel. Newman returned to the track in 18th place at lap 169.

It was only a handful of laps before Newman reported that the car was once again too tight in the center of the turns. Despite the handling problems, the team elected to stay out under the caution at lap 196.

By lap 225, Newman had moved into 17th place. As the run progressed, the car's handling became even more difficult for Newman as he said he was struggling with a car that was "loose in, tight in the center and loose off the corners."

When the yellow flag waved at lap 258, Newman was still running in 17th place. The caution gave the Alltel pit crew another chance to work on Newman's ill-handling race car. Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments.

The quick pit stop helped Newman gain some positions on pit road. However, NASCAR penalized Newman for speeding as he exited the pits. Newman was forced to the tail end of the longest line and restarted in 23rd place at lap 267.

Not convinced that he had sped exiting pit lane, Newman was more determined than ever to make up the ground he lost from the penalty. By lap 300, Newman was back in the top 15 and holding his spot.

However, at lap 332 trouble struck Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge. The car blew a right front tire and slapped the wall entering turn four. Newman limped to the pits where his crew changed right-side tires before sending him back on track in 30th place, two laps down to the leaders. Newman was one of several drivers, including both of his Penske Racing teammates, to have right front tire issues throughout the day.

Despite falling several laps down to the leaders, Newman continued to steadily work under the green flag to catch and pass the cars that were on his lap. Newman finished the race in 23rd place, three laps down to the leaders.

Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished 34th and 36th, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 26 for the Pep Boys Auto 500.  The race will air live on ABC at 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on PRN Radio at 2 p.m. ET. 

Ryan Newman, Driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge



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 Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)