Determination Drives Ryan Newman to Finish Fourth at Texas

April 7, 2008

FT. WORTH, Texas (April 6, 2008) – Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing team overcame adversity during the course of the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon to score a fourth-place finish. With this strong result, Newman moved into a tie for eighth position with Greg Biffle in the NASCAR Cup points standings, 164 points behind points leader Jeff Burton.

Despite struggling with a tight race car all day and even falling a lap down to the leaders at one point in the 500 mile race, Newman and his Roy McCauley-led team refused to give up. Their determination resulted in the team’s second top-five finish of the 2008 season.

“Today was a good team effort for the Alltel/Samsung team,” Newman said. “We didn’t have a great car at the start of the race and we even struggled a little bit in the pits today, but the guys kept working on the car and making it better all day.

“And in the end, I was at the right place at the right time to pick up some positions. I’m really happy to come home with our second top-five of the year.”

Newman started the 500-mile race in fourth place, marking his best qualifying effort of the season. Just five laps into the race, Newman began sliding back through the field. He told his crew that the No. 12 Alltel/Samsung Dodge was too tight coming off of turn two and also tight throughout turns three and four. The tight-handling condition caused Newman to fall back to 11th place by lap 25.

The crew had their first opportunity to work on Newman’s ill-handling race car when the caution flag waved at lap 28. The team made a track bar adjustment, a tire air pressure adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel. After the pit stop, Newman restarted in 12th place.

Just a few laps into his post-stop run, Newman told his crew that his Dodge was still too tight. The adjustments had helped, but he needed more to help the car roll through the corners at the 1.5-mile oval.

In an effort to keep up with tightening track conditions and assist Newman’s handling, the team opted to make another track bar adjustment and a tire air pressure adjustment under a green flag pit stop at lap 82, also changing four tires and added fuel. Following the pit stop, Newman returned to the track in 11th place.

“I’m still tight in the center and tight off (turn) two,” said Newman, who had moved into the top ten by lap 105. “It’s getting better, but the track is tightening up, too.”

A caution just laps later allowed the team to make additional adjustments to the track bar and a tire air pressure change in an attempt to help Newman’s handling. The team also changed four tires, added fuel and Newman returned to the track in 13th place.

Newman continued to battle a tightening race track and a tight race car. At every opportunity, the crew worked on the No. 12, making a series of track bar, wedge and tire air pressure adjustments, to free up his handling condition.

Despite all the changes, Newman couldn’t keep up with the leaders and fell one lap down at lap 293. However, a quick caution gave Newman the “Lucky Dog” pass, putting him back on the lead lap in 11th place at lap 299.

As the race laps ticked off the board, Newman tried to make his way through lapped traffic to pass the cars in front of him. A caution at lap 329 put Newman in the top ten and extended the race beyond its original 334-lap scheduled distance.

McCauley opted to bring Newman down pit road for a track bar adjustment and two tires in hopes of making a run in the closing laps of the race. The team also added tape to the grill of the No. 12 Dodge. This quick pit stop put Newman back on track in seventh place for the restart at lap 337.

The late-race caution meant the race would end with a green-white-checker finish. When the green flag waved, Newman went to work on the cars in front of him and moved up to sixth spot on the first lap. An accident on the final lap in front of Newman moved the No. 12 Alltel/Samsung Dodge into fourth place when the checkered flag waved.

“This is what happens when the whole team sticks with it,” McCauley told the crew following the race.  The fourth-place finish was Newman’s third top-five at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It was tough out there today,” Newman said after the race. “The cars are a handful. Our Allte/Samsungl Dodge was good for most of the race – it was just tight and we were freeing it up all day. At one point we got off and we went a lap down, but the guys stuck with it and didn’t give up. We’re really working on our intermediate program, and this finish shows the improvement. Getting our second top-five of the year is huge.”

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at Phoenix International Raceway for the first Saturday night race of the season on April 12.  The Subway Fresh Fit 500 begins at 8 p.m. EDT. The race can be seen on FOX television and heard on the MRN radio network.