Newman Gets a Hard-Fought 16th Place Finish at Kansas

September 28, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (September 28, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge rallied back from slapping the wall in turn two early in the race and going a lap down to finish 16th in the Camping World 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Newman is now 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 222 points out of 13th place, with seven races remaining in the 2008 Cup Series season.

On Friday, Newman qualified 16th at the 1.5-mile oval. Following the disqualification of another car's time, Newman moved up to 15th in the starting order for Sunday's race.

Just 10 laps after the green flag dropped, Newman reported to Alltel team crew chief Roy McCauley that he was too loose off the corners, especially off of turn four. The loose-handling condition caused Newman to drop back three spots to 18th place.

Newman's Alltel pit crew had their first opportunity to work on the No. 12 machine at lap 49 when green flag pit stops began. Newman pitted for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment to the left rear tire and a wedge adjustment. After green flag pit stops cycled through, Newman was shown in 17th place.

Quickly, Newman radioed his team that the adjustment had not helped his loose-handling race car. In fact, Newman told his crew that the car was still "really loose, mostly on exit."

Newman tried to hold on to his spot in the field despite being loose, but he lost several positions. Then on lap 74, Newman made contact with the turn two wall as he exited the corner, bringing out the first caution of the day.

As Newman brought the Alltel Dodge to pit road so his crew could survey the damage, spotter Greg Newman reported that the car had minimal damage. Most of it was cosmetic damage to the right side of the car. On pit road, the crew changed four tires, added fuel, and made adjustments to the track bar and air pressure in the left rear tire. They also pulled the right front fender out, which had been damaged in the incident.

Newman restarted the race at lap 79 in 25th place. He dropped a few spots early in the run, and was in 27th place when the caution flag waved at lap 116.

"I just can't go," Newman radioed McCauley about the car, which was sliding around the track. "The balance isn't bad. I just have absolutely no grip. I can be tight, I can be loose - I just don't have any grip so I can't manipulate the car."

The Alltel team changed four tires, added fuel, made a track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment to the right side tires in hopes of helping Newman's problems. The solid pit stop put Newman back on track in 21st place.

Newman continued to complain that a lack of grip was hampering his efforts on the race track. The Alltel team tried to help Newman's handling issues over a series of pit stops with both air pressure and chassis adjustments.

By lap 195, Newman had fallen one lap down to the leaders. But Newman didn't give up and battled to stay the first car one lap down. At lap 225, his efforts paid off when the caution flag waved and Newman was granted the "Lucky Dog" free pass, which put him back on the lead lap in 18th place.

Newman brought the Alltel Dodge to pit road for four fresh tires under the caution, a track bar adjustment and fuel for the final run of the race.

He was able to move as high as 14th, but dropped back to 16th in the closing laps.

"For us, the biggest issue today was grip," said McCauley after the 267-lap event. "We had the Alltel Dodge balanced, but overall car grip was our biggest issue today. It was one of those days where you wish that you had a few hundred more pounds of downforce - life would have been a lot better. We fought rear grip about 60-70 percent of the day. We made some gains on it later in the race, but not enough to make a significant difference."

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 30th and 33rd, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday, October 5, at the Talladega Superspeedway with the AMP Energy 500. The race can be seen live on the ABC television network 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 Alltel Dodge



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 Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet)