After starting Sunday's 400-mile race in the third position, Newman's day went from bad to worse in 20 laps.
Immediately after the green flag dropped at the 2.5-mile track, Newman told his crew the car was "really, really tight". Newman fell to 20th on lap 15, but crew chief Mike Nelson kept reminding Newman that NASCAR would throw a competition caution soon due to tire-wear concerns. NASCAR, however, didn't have to throw the caution as Jeff Green's car crashed in turn three on lap 15, bringing out the first of nine yellow flags.
"We have to go back on some of the changes we made yesterday," Newman relayed to Nelson.
During discussions about their first pit stop, Newman asked for air out of the tires and a small amount of bite out of the car to help its entry into the corners. The engine was also concerning the team since the water temperature had risen to 259 degrees.
When Newman pitted, the Alltel Dodge crew put one round of wedge in the right rear, went one round down on the right-side track bar, put on four fresh tires with 2 pounds of air out of the right-side tires and a full tank of fuel. The stop enabled Newman to restart in the 16th spot.
The field took the green flag on lap 20 and on the next lap, David Stremme's Dodge got into the back of the Alltel Dodge. Newman spun and slammed the fourth-turn wall, severely damaging his car. The damage was too extensive to fix and the Alltel Dodge crew had to pack up early, leaving Newman in the 42nd position.
There was a silver lining, however. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who remains in the final transfer spot for the 2007 Chase, blew an engine with 24 laps remaining in the 160-lap race and gained only 29 points on Newman. Although Newman fell to the 14th position in the drivers' standings – teammate Kurt Busch moved into 13th – Newman is only 59 points out of 12th place with six races remaining before the Chase cutoff.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. The team looks to rebound at the 2.5-mile track where Newman earned his third-consecutive Bud Pole Award just seven weeks ago – his fourth of 2007 – and finished second after rain ended the race just as Newman was passing Jeff Gordon for the lead. ESPN and MRN Radio will begin their live coverage of the Pennsylvania 500 at 1 p.m. EDT.