Ryan Newman Scores Top 10 at Sonoma

June 23, 2008

SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge team scored a seventh place finish at  Infineon Raceway on Sunday in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. It was the team's sixth top-10 finish of the season.

"Our strategy got off a little bit, and we had to pass a whole lot more cars than we should have had to," said Newman.  "There at the end we got a little help to gain some ground with the wrecks. We're happy with the finish - it's a top 10, and that's what we need right now.

"The Alltel Dodge was pretty good today. It was a little loose in the esses and I struggled with a couple of turns, but I was able to pass and make up ground on the track, which was important. All in all, it was a good day, and we are looking forward to New Hampshire next week."

Newman is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup point standings, 105 points shy of the 12th place cutoff for the 2008 NASCAR Chase for the Cup.

On Friday, Newman qualified the Alltel Dodge in ninth place. With the drop of the green flag on Sunday afternoon, it didn't take long for Newman to find the passing zones at the 1.99-mile road course. By lap four, Newman had already made his way into the top five.

As Newman battled to stay in fifth place, he radioed crew chief Roy McCauley that the car was too loose coming off of turns two and four. He was also too loose in the esses.

Despite the loose-handling condition, Newman was in seventh place when green flag pit stops began at lap 25. As the team prepared to pit under the green flag for his first pit stop of the day, an untimely caution flag waved at lap 30. Under the caution, the team pitted for four tires and fuel, as well as an air pressure and track bar adjustment. McCauley told Newman the track bar adjustment would help him with the loose condition in the esses.

Because several other cars had already pitted under the green flag prior to the caution and did not have to stop during the yellow, Newman restarted in 14th place.

Over the course of the race's second long green flag run, Newman was able to gain two spots on the track. While running in 12th place at lap 66, he told his crew that the car had been tight at the start of the run and had gotten loose as the laps went by - specifically in turn six and off of turn eight.

At that point, it appeared to the Alltel team that the final stop of the day would be under green flag conditions.  As fuel mileage is a key to a solid finish at the 11-turn road course, the team opted to stretch their time on the track as long as possible under the green flag so they would not have to stop again. Newman had moved up to third-place during the green flag run at lap 69, when McCauley told him to pit on the next lap.

For the second time in the race, the team was bitten by an untimely caution flag which waved before Newman could pit. He pitted under the caution flag for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Since many of the other competitors had already pitted prior to the yellow, Newman returned to the track in 22nd place at lap 74.

With just over 30 laps to go in the race, Newman had his work cut out for him and he wasted no time gaining spots on the race track. Newman made multiple passes and was turning some of the quickest laps of the day. By lap 85, Newman had moved into the top 15. Just laps later, he had moved into 13th place and was quickly gaining on the three competitors in front of him.

On lap 105, a multi-car incident directly in front of the 12 car in turn seven helped Newman gain even more ground, up to the eighth spot. 

Newman was able to pick up one more position on the final lap of the race to finish in seventh place.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday, June 29 for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. The race can be seen live on TNT at 12:30 p.m. EDT and heard on MRN at 1:15 p.m. EDT.

Ryan Newman, Driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge



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 Race Winner: Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota)