Ryan Newman Finishes 36th at Daytona

July 6, 2008

 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge team finished 36th on Saturday night in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Newman had a strong enough car to drive from the back of the field into the top-10 on two separate occasions, but the No. 12 machine's "Daytona luck" did not hold out as Newman was involved in three separate incidents throughout the night.

The final incident, at lap 136, sent Newman to the garage for multiple repairs. After losing 13 laps while in the garage, the Alltel Dodge returned to the track to complete the 160-lap (scheduled, 162 actual) race and pick up valuable positions and points. "The Alltel Dodge was really strong tonight, but we couldn't catch a break," said Newman, who had won the 50th Running of the Daytona 500 in February 2008. "We just kept getting caught up in other people's problems all night. It was like we were a magnet out on the race track.

"We've had a really good superspeedway package at all three races this year, and we had another good car tonight. I'm disappointed because I really think that we had the chance to get a solid finish and pick up some valuable points, but we just didn't have luck on our side tonight."

Newman dropped to 17th in the NASCAR Cup driver point standings, 185 points out of the 12th place "cutoff" with eight races to go until the NASCAR Chase for the Cup begins in September.

On Friday afternoon, Newman qualified the Alltel Dodge in 32nd place.  At Daytona, qualifying is less important than at many other tracks on the circuit. Instead, the focus is on the car's ability to handle in the all-important draft.  The No. 12 Alltel Dodge was ready for superspeedway traffic as soon as the green flag dropped on Saturday night.

Just 10 laps into the race, Newman had already picked up 16 spots and was sitting in 16th place. Newman radioed crew chief Roy McCauley and told him that his car was a little bit too tight-handling.

When the caution flag waved at lap 20, the Alltel team had its first opportunity to work on Newman's car. Newman entered pit road in 14th place and the team changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment to help Newman's tight-handling condition. Newman restarted the race in 13th place.

Over the course of the next green flag run, Newman jockeyed for position in the draft, running two and three-wide for most of the laps. Newman was able to move into the top 10 for a few laps due to the strong performance of the No. 12 machine in the corners, but then dropped back to 21st at lap 39, when he got stuck in the middle of a three-wide battle without any help from cars behind him.

At lap 43, Newman was tapped by the No. 26 Ford of Jamie McMurray and spun across the grass. Newman was able to save the car and keep it off the wall. When the caution flag waved, Newman came down pit road for four fresh tires, as his were flat-spotted from the spin, and fuel. Because Newman stopped for repairs before pit road was officially opened, NASCAR sent him to the tail end of the longest line for the restart. He restarted in 39th place at lap 47.

"He just lost the nose underneath me," Newman said about McMurray. "I was coming off the corner, trying to pass and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Starting in the back, Newman wasn't able to catch up to the lead pack of cars as quickly as he had hoped. But a caution at lap 70, while Newman was running in 37th place, gave the Alltel team the opportunity to pit once more and get back into the action.

The No. 12 machine came into the pits for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, returning to the track in 28th place. Once the race restarted at lap 74, Newman was once again able to show the strength of his Alltel Dodge, battling and maneuvering through the draft. By lap 100, Newman had made his way back into the top 10.

Newman radioed to his crew that the car was a little too tight-handling overall. But that handling condition didn't stop his rise through the field - when the caution flag waved again at lap 109, Newman had moved into third place. The Alltel team changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment, returning Newman to the track for the restart in the same third place spot.

When the green flag dropped, Newman piloted the Alltel Dodge to the second spot before being left without any drafting help.  Newman fell back to seventh, but climbed back in the draft at lap 124 when trouble struck again - the No. 38 of David Gilliland lost control of his car and ran Newman into the turn four wall.

"I hit the wall pretty good," Newman radioed the crew before pitting under the caution flag. The right side of the Alltel Dodge was flattened due to hard contact with the wall. The car also sustained left front fender damage.

Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and sheet metal repair, returning to the track in 28th place.

Although behind the wheel of a damaged race car, Newman was still confident that the Alltel machine had a shot at a solid finish. He moved into the top 20 within seven laps of returning to the track, but Newman's chances at another strong run at Daytona were dashed when he was caught up in his third incident of the night at lap 136.

As multiple cars battled for position coming off of turn four, Newman was tagged from a car behind him. He was sent spinning once again, but this time he could not keep the No. 12 Alltel Dodge off of the wall. The car sustained heavy damage and Newman drove to the garage for extensive repairs to the car.

The Alltel crew feverishly worked to make various repairs to the car and was able to send Newman back on track with a handful of laps remaining in the event. Newman was able to gain a couple of spots thanks to the crew's hard work, finishing in 36th. Newman's Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished fourth and 29th, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Saturday night, July 12 for the LifeLock 400.com at Chicagoland Speedway. 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: Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)