Phoenix Engine Failure Relegates Ryan Newman to 43rd

April 13, 2008

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 12, 2008) – Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge started on the pole position and looked to have a car that would contend for victory on Saturday night in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but an engine failure at lap 134 relegated the team to a 43rd place finish.

“Tonight was really unfortunate because we had an Alltel Dodge that was a top-10 car at worst, and I think it was better than that,” Newman said. “It’s just really disappointing. I was hoping that it was a power steering problem and we could get back out there, but it was an engine.”

With eight races completed in the NASCAR Cup Series, Newman is 12th in the 2008 NASCAR Cup driver point standings, 300 points behind leader Jeff Burton.

On Thursday, Newman scored his first pole of the 2008 season at Phoenix, the 43rd pole position of his career. After two strong practices on Friday, Newman and the Alltel team were confident heading into Saturday’s race.

When the green flag dropped on Saturday night, Newman led the first 30 laps of the Subway Fresh Fit 500. At lap 31, after losing the lead to eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson, Newman told his crew that the Alltel Dodge was handling a little loose in general but tight in the center of turn three and four. By lap 40, Newman had fallen to third.

When the caution waved at lap 41, Newman came down pit road for four tires, fuel and track bar and air pressure adjustments. A quick pit stop by the Alltel crew sent Newman back on track in the lead, however, Newman couldn’t hold on to the lead as the changes hampered the car’s handling. Newman lost the lead at lap 50.

“It doesn’t feel good,” Newman said over the radio at lap 60. “It’s too tight in the center (of the turns) and too loose off. We’re getting killed in the center (of the turns).

The difficult handling condition caused Newman to lose spots. By lap 75, Newman had dropped to 12th-place. “We need pretty big changes the next time we come in,” Newman said.

At lap 113, the caution flag waved and the Alltel pit crew got the opportunity to help Newman’s handling issues. The team elected to make track bar and wedge adjustments as well as a tire air pressure adjustment. The team also changed four tires and added fuel.

Newman restarted the event in 10th place at lap 121. It appeared that the adjustments had helped Newman as he quickly began making his way through the pack of cars. But at lap 133, trouble struck for Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge. Smoke began pouring from the No. 12 machine, the caution flag waved and Newman came down pit road.

After looking under the hood, the crew diagnosed the problem to be terminal. Newman and the Alltel team were out of the race.

After a week off, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 27, 2008 for the Aaron’s 499. The ace can be seen live on the FOX television network at 1:30 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 2 p.m. EDT.