Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge started 15th and suffered an extremely loose handling race car early on. After slapping the wall in turn two on lap 74, he rallied back from going a lap down to a 16th place finish. Newman is now 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings, 222 points out of 13th place, with seven races remaining in the 2008 Cup Series season.
"For us, the biggest issue today was grip," said Roy McCauley, crew chief of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge. "We had the Alltel Dodge balanced, but overall car grip was our biggest issue today. It was one of those days where you wish that you had a few hundred more pounds of downforce - life would have been a lot better. We fought rear grip about 60-70 percent of the day. We made some gains on it later in the race, but not enough to make a significant difference."
Much like teammate Newman, the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver Busch, who started 31st, struggled with handling issues for most of the race and finished 30th, one lap down to the leaders. He maintains the 18th spot in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings.
"It was just a tough day all around - loose, tight, loose, tight," said Busch, who had the new Dodge R6P8 powerplant under his No. 2's hood, marking the first race ever for the lighter and more-powerful "next-generation" engine that is expected to be the standard for Dodge teams during the 2009 season. "Our handling issue didn't give us a chance to evaluate the performance of the new engine. We will get a better opportunity at tracks like Phoenix and Martinsville."
"From what we've seen so far with this engine, it has tremendous torque and that'll be great for Kurt and our team once we get everything in order," said Miller Lite team crew chief Pat Tryson. "That's where Kurt is so good most everywhere is getting off the corners. When we get it dialed in to where we're getting all the traction we can exiting the turns and getting all the power out of this engine to the ground, I think it'll mean a significant gain for us."
Starting from the 23rd spot, Hornish and the No. 77 Penske Truck Rental team overcame a pit road penalty and a late-race on-track incident to finish 33rd on Sunday. The No. 77 team remains 37th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings, 66 points outside of the top-35.
"The Penske Truck Rental Dodge was good for quite a few runs," said Hornish after the 400.5-mile event concluded. "I hurt us early with the speeding penalty on the entry to pit road. I had all four tires locked up trying to get stopped, but there was a bunch of oil dry down there and I'm not sure exactly what happened. The other problem was that we ran it out of fuel so we've got something that we need to check into there. Other than that, we're pretty happy with today's race."
The Penske Racing trio returns to action next Sunday, October 5, at the Talladega Superspeedway for the AMP Energy 500. The race can be seen live on the ABC television network at 1 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 1:15 p.m. EDT.