Newman Battles Loose Race Car, Finishes 21st at Charlotte

October 12, 2008

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2008) - Ryan Newman and the Penske Racing No. 12 Alltel Dodge team battled a loose-handling race car for most of the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Despite leading 10 laps and running in the top 15 for a large majority of the night, the team could never quite tame the loose race car.

An untimely caution with 80 laps remaining in the race led to Newman falling one lap down, which he could not make up. Newman ended the night in 21st place, one lap down to the leaders.

Newman is currently 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings, 392 points out of 13th spot, with five races remaining in the 2008 NASCAR Cup season.

"It was not the night we had hoped for with our Alltel Dodge," Newman said after the race. "The car started out loose and it got looser and looser throughout the night. We just never got the handle on it that we needed to in order to get a good finish tonight."

Due to inclement weather at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Thursday night, the field was set according to 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings, and Newman started 16th.

Early in the 334-lap race, Newman radioed his crew that the Alltel Dodge was loose, which was the same problem that he had fought in two practices on Friday night at the 1.5-mile oval. Newman also told his crew that the car was very sensitive on the right rear spring especially when braking, which made it difficult to get into the turns.

The Alltel pit crew had their first opportunity to help Newman's handling problems when the caution flag waved at lap 43. Newman, then in 15th spot, pitted for four tires, fuel, a track bar adjustment and a wedge adjustment. Newman returned to the track in 21st place, as many cars in front of him had opted to take just two tires.

Within just a handful of laps, Newman came back on the radio to tell his crew that the car was still too loose. Newman was able to gain some ground, and by lap 100, he had moved back into the top 15, but he was still not happy with the handling of his car.

The yellow flag waved again at lap 102, and Newman pitted for significant adjustments in hopes of tightening up the No. 12 Dodge. The pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and removed the spring rubbers from the right rear of the car. Newman returned to pit road a second time for a wedge adjustment. When the race restarted at lap 108, Newman was in 24th place.

"We took a hit there in track position on that stop, but we needed to do it while we had the chance," crew chief Roy McCauley radioed Newman after the stop.

At lap 121, the caution flag waved again. Newman told the Alltel crew that the car was "definitely more driveable, but it was still loose." Since it had only been a handful of laps since the last pit stop, the 12 team opted to stay on the track.

Newman took over the race lead at lap 123 under the caution flag, and he was able to hang on to the lead under the green flag until lap 132. Even out front and in cleaner air, Newman told his crew that the car "was still a good bit loose."

By lap 160, Newman had fallen to seventh place. Because the team was about 14 laps off pit stop sequence from the other lead lap cars, Newman was forced to pit early. The pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment. The green flag stop put Newman a lap down, but the No. 12 Alltel Dodge cycled back onto the lead lap at lap 180 in seventh place after the other lead lap cars completed their pit stops. Again, Newman relayed to the Alltel crew that the car was still too loose.

Another caution period on lap 186 gave the Alltel pit crew the opportunity to work on alleviating the No. 12's loose-handling condition. The team changed four tires, added fuel and made another track bar adjustment.  Newman restarted the race in 20th place.

Over the course of the next 20 laps, Newman narrowly avoided two multi-car wrecks that happened around him. During the ensuing caution periods, Newman, like the other lead lap cars stayed on track

Newman pitted under the green flag at lap 257 for four tires, fuel, a track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment to the left rear tire. An untimely caution just seven laps later put Newman and several other cars on the tail-end of the lead lap, in 14th place.

Newman was able to hang onto his lead lap spot for several laps, but at lap 285, he was overtaken by the leaders to go one lap down. Newman radioed his crew that the car was "the loosest it had been the entire race."

The team had one more opportunity to work on the car when the caution waved another time at lap 297. However, following the pit stop, Newman said the change had not helped. Newman fell back to 21st place, where he finished the event.

 "We were too loose all day," McCauley after the race. "We struggled trying to get it tightened. The last set of tires we put on were scuffs and it still didn't tighten it up enough."

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished third and 22nd, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday, October 19 for the Tums QuikPak at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. The race can be seen live on ABC at 1 p.m. EDT and coverage on MRN Radio begins at 12:45 p.m. EDT.

 Ryan Newman, Driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge



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 Race Winner: Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet)