Monday, April 16, 2007

Problems continue to plague Newman at Texas

Monday, April 16, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, experienced a long day filled with problems in Sunday's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Newman, who had an average finish of 27.85 entering the event on the 1.5-mile track, finished 32nd after a slew of problems during the 334-lap race.

The problems began immediately on lap 2 when a multi-car crash collected Newman, causing minor damage to the Alltel Dodge's nose. There was a hole just above the grill that crew chief Mike Nelson wanted to get covered quickly, so Newman came down pit road for repairs and ended up restarting in 40th.

Newman fought his way through traffic, though, and the car seemed pretty good. In only 16 laps, Newman gained 10 positions. By the time the second caution flag waved on lap 44, Newman was in 27th.

Things seemed to be OK for the Alltel team, even after an extended stay on pit road on lap 46 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment when a 14.11-second stop enabled Newman to still gain a spot when the field went green again on lap 51.

Although the car was loose entering the corners and tight in the center, Newman had cracked the top-20 by lap 97 and was looking strong.

However, the problems then worsened and occurred quite frequently.

During Newman’s third stop of the day for four tires, fuel and a half-round of wedge in the left rear during a green-flag run, the jack broke. Jack-man Britt Goodrich had propped up the car's right side when suddenly, the car fell and Goodrich was scrambling to grab a backup jack. By the time the crew completed the stop, two laps had been lost and there was right-side damage to the car, leaving Newman in the 34th position.

Less than 10 laps later, Newman radioed his crew that he was returning to pit road with a cut tire. At first, the crew thought Newman had run over a piece of debris, but when the car reached the pit stall, the damage from the jack incident had bent part of the sheet metal, which in turn cut the right-rear tire. The issue cost Newman one more lap, leaving him three laps down from the leader. To top it off, a tire had gotten away from the crew during the stop and Newman was penalized with a pass-through penalty. When the yellow came out on lap 116, Newman drove down pit road under the caution and kept from losing another lap.

Newman was left running his own race, as he was the only driver three laps down and had no one to race for position. From lap 119 until the checkered flag on lap 334, Newman gained only five positions as cars dropped out of the race, leaving him 32nd at the finish.

The worst part of the situation was having such a good car and not being able to fight for the win. After being passed by the leader to lose a fourth lap, Newman decided to drop to the back and see how his car worked in clean air.

Each time Newman did this, he would run the fourth fastest lap on the track, beaten by only the top-three cars.

To complete the bad luck he experienced at Texas, with just over 20 laps to go in the race, Newman reported he had a vibration in the car. Nelson asked if Newman wanted to come in, but Newman didn’t want to pit and lose more laps. The car lasted until the checkered flag waved, but Newman was four laps down to winner Jeff Burton.

Newman remained 20th in the drivers’ standings, 123 points out of 12th and 480 points behind leader Jeff Gordon.

Next week, the Cup Series returns to the COT cars at Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. The Saturday night race will be broadcast by FOX and MRN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. Newman will also run the No. 12 Kodak Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Busch Series on Friday night in the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200. ESPN and MRN Radio will broadcast the race at 9 p.m. EDT.

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