MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 19, 2008) - Tire issues plagued Penske Racing drivers Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday's TUMS QuikPak 500 as the trio finished 23rd, 34th and 36th respectively.
Inclement weather rained out qualifying at Martinsville on Friday afternoon, so the field was set by 2008 owner points.
Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge took the green flag in 16th place. Fighting an ill-handling race car early on, Newman ran as high as second place and solidly in the top 15 for more than half of the 504-lap event. 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."
After starting 36th, Hornish unfortunately suffered the same fate as the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger finished in 34th position, 31 laps down, after a blown right-front tire on lap 161 sent the team to the garage for repairs. Despite the incident, Hornish received "Rookie of the Race" honors for the second week in a row as the top-finishing rookie racer.
"It was a disappointing day for the Mobil 1 Dodge," said Hornish. "We should've probably finished the race two laps down. Unfortunately, we popped a tire and had to come to the garage for repairs. This Mobil 1 team worked really hard to get us back on track. We finished better than we did here last time but we're obviously not where we want to be. We're heading to tracks where we tend to run strong and we are looking ahead to Atlanta, Texas and Homestead."
Busch started 19th on the grid and endured a multitude of tire and brake issues early on, relegating his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger to a 36th-place finish, 34 laps down to winner Jimmie Johnson.
"Just a total bummer day," Busch said. "Today, it was the right rear brake system. I don't know exactly what happened, but something in the bleeder was off when we pitted. I felt the brakes get really spongy and when we pitted, fluid was spewing everywhere. NASCAR wouldn't allow us to cap off the line and sent us to the garage to repair it before we could go back onto the track. So we looked at the rest of the race as a test session trying big changes."
The Penske Racing trio now head to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend for the excitement of the Pep Boys Auto 500. Racing action will be televised live on ABC on Sunday, October 26 at 1 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast on PRN Radio beginning at 2 p.m. EDT.