Newman Nabs Top-15 Finish in AVIS Dodge

August 4, 2008

LONG POND, Pa. (August 3, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing AVIS Dodge team finished 14th on Sunday afternoon in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. Newman ran in the top five in the early stages of the 200-lap race, but a rain shower just past halfway in the race led to a variety of strategies on pit road, which resulted in a top-15 finish for Newman and the AVIS team.

With the strong finish, Newman advanced one spot in the 2008 NASCAR Cup driver point standings to 15th place, 173 points out of the 12th place "Chase cutoff" with five races to go until the NASCAR Chase for the Cup begins in September.

Newman started sixth at the 2.5-mile Pocono "Tricky Triangle," which is one of the most unique tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit with three very different corners.

Because of heavy rains at Pocono Raceway on Saturday which led to the cancellation of both practice sessions, NASCAR elected to throw a competition caution at lap 20. Sitting in fifth place at the time, Newman told crew chief Roy McCauley that the AVIS Dodge was tight getting into turn one and loose in turns two and three.

Newman brought his No. 12 machine down pit road for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment to help the loose condition in turns two and three and a track bar adjustment to help the tight-handling condition in turn one. Newman returned to the track in eighth place.

Soon after the restart, Newman began to lose spots on the race track. Newman told the crew that the changes during the pit stop had now made the car "way too tight in turn one" and that the air pressures in his tires were too high.

When the field began making green flag pit stops around lap 50, Newman had fallen back to 17th place. He pitted for significant wedge and track bar adjustments, an air pressure adjustment, four tires and fuel. When all stops were completed, Newman was back in 17th spot.

Following the pit stop, Newman reported to the AVIS crew that he was too loose in all three corners. A caution at lap 65 gave the team the opportunity to aid the handling of the race car, quickly changing right side tires, adding fuel and making another track bar adjustment, sending Newman back on track in seventh place.

As the race continued, Newman was unable to hold his spot, and dropped to 14th place by lap 80. "I can't make up in the corners what I am losing on the straightaways," said Newman about his car as he lost positions.

Although the No. 12's handling had improved in turn one, Newman remained too loose off of turn two and entering turn three. The AVIS pit crew continued to adjust on the handling of Newman's car with each pit stop.

At lap 126, the caution flag waved for rain in turn two.  Newman was in 13th place and the team opted to pit for right side tires and fuel - gambling that the race would not be rained out and they would be able to return to the front as the pit stops cycled through and the laps wound down. Different strategies played out on pit road, and when the race was temporarily halted at lap 131, Newman was shown in 27th place. Following a 41-minute red flag period, the race resumed.

Newman was unable to make up ground quickly when on lap 135 he got loose coming off of a turn and slapped the wall. Although Newman radioed that he "hit the wall pretty good," spotter Greg Newman reported that the AVIS Dodge had minor scrapes and dents.

Following the incident, Newman got his rhythm back and began picking up spots on the race track. The race remained under the green flag for the final 55 laps. Because of the earlier strategy move, Newman and his team needed to stop only one time for fuel, while the teams that hadn't stopped when the caution waved for rain would need to stop twice.

As the varying pit strategies from the rain played out, Newman moved from as low as the 33rd spot into the top 15. He crossed the finish line in 14th place.

Newman's Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 38th and 26th, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday afternoon, August 10, for the Centurion Boats at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. The race can be seen live on ESPN at 1 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 1:15 p.m. EDT. 

Ryan Newman, Driver of the No. 12 AVIS Dodge



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 Race Winner: Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford)