Newman Finishes 15th in Rain Shortened Race

June 29, 2008

LOUDON, N.H. (June 29, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge team finished 15th on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after heavy rain ended the race early on Sunday afternoon. Newman's top-15 finish moved him up into the 15th spot in the NASCAR Cup driver point standings, 96 points shy of the 12th place cutoff for the 2008 NASCAR Chase for the Cup.

Newman was running in ninth place at the one-mile flat track at lap 271 when the caution waved for a multi-car incident behind him. Knowing that the No.12 machine did not have fuel to go the advertised 301-lap race distance, the team elected to pit under the caution flag along with other cars also running in the top 15.

The team pitted for two seconds worth of fuel and returned to the track for the restart at lap 278 in 15th place. Just two laps later, the caution waved again for a spin on the track. Heavy rain began to fall, soaking the race track and ending the race, leaving Newman and the No. 12 Alltel team with a 15th place finish.

"It was a tough call on pit strategy at the end," Newman said. "We couldn't have made it on fuel to the end of the race (301 laps scheduled), so we pitted. It's a tough way for our day to end since we were running in the top 10."

On Friday, Newman qualified the Alltel Dodge in 16th place.  As the race began on Sunday afternoon, Newman radioed his crew that the car was tight-handling in the middle and loose off the turns. By lap 20, Newman had dropped to 20th place on the race track.

At lap 69, Newman made his first green flag pit stop of the day. The Alltel pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made track bar, wedge and tire air pressure adjustments to alleviate Newman's handling problems. By the time the green flag pit stops had cycled through, Newman was scored in 19th place.

Just 10 laps post-stop, Newman reported to Alltel team crew chief Roy McCauley that the No. 12 Dodge was still too tight. A caution at lap 85 gave the team a chance to work on Newman's car again. Newman came down pit road for two tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment, restarting the race in 16th place.

Newman battled to gain spots on the track as two- and three-wide racing was going on around him. At lap 110, he told his crew that the No. 12 machine was still too tight in the middle and loose off of the turns, with the loose condition as the car's bigger problem.

Two more caution periods allowed the Alltel crew the opportunity to continue working on and improving Newman's car. These adjustments, as well as quick pit stop work by the team, allowed Newman to gain spots on the field. By lap 210, Newman had moved into 12th place.

As the race began to wind down and rain was spotted in the area, the team opted not to pit under the caution at lap 217, in a similar strategy as the then-top 15 cars.  To keep track position, McCauley radioed to Newman that "going to the back wasn't and option and to save fuel" just in case of weather issues.

The race went green and in just a handful of laps, Newman moved into the ninth spot and continued his fight through the top 10.

At lap 271, the caution flag waved again. At that point the Alltel team knew that the fuel level in the No. 12 Dodge was six laps shy of making it to the checkered flag. After much discussion, the team, along with many of the cars in the top 15, elected to bring Newman into the pits for a quick "splash and go" of fuel.

Newman returned to the track in 15th place, but he did not get the chance to make up any ground on the field as rain ended the race just six laps later.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Saturday night, July 5 for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the site of Newman's win in the 50th Running of the Daytona 500 in February. The race can be seen live on the TNT network at 6:30 p.m. EDT and heard on MRN radio at 7:15 p.m. EDT. 

Ryan Newman, Driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge



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 Race Winner: Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)