LONG POND, Pa. – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, was disappointed by his seventh-place finish in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, but the team remained in contention to make the "Chase for the Championship" with just five races left before the cutoff.
"We had a top two or three car today, but we made the wrong adjustments for our second-to-last run and it really hurt us," Newman said after climbing from his car on pit road. "The guys did an excellent job in the pits, and [crew chief] Mike Nelson made good calls all day. I wanted the car freed up just a little bit and we just went a little too far on our track bar, but it was still a good run for the Alltel Dodge and we're still in a good position to make the Chase, so the day was good…just not great."
Newman, whose car sported a special Mobil 1 paint scheme for the race, remains in 14th position with five races left until the championship starts. He is 90 points behind teammate Kurt Busch, who snapped a 51-race losing streak Sunday, took the checkered flag and moved into the 12th and final sport for the Chase.
Newman, who qualified fourth at the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped track, moved up to the second position as soon as the green flag waved, falling in behind Kurt Busch to lead the field. The car was a little tight in turn two and Busch was able to get away from him and the rest of the field, but Newman hung on to second for a good portion of the race. In fact, the only time Newman fell out of the top 10 was during green-flag pit stops while the field was cycling through. The first time he dropped out of the top five was on lap 145 when his car was too loose after the track bar adjustment.
For most of the race, Newman's Dodge was too tight and the condition kept him from gaining ground on Busch, who led a record 175 laps en route to victory lane. The car's tightness seemed to remain even after two pit stops to correct the problem. On Newman's third stop, Nelson called for two rounds of wedge out of the left rear and two rounds up on the right-side track bar, but those changes seemed to make Newman's car too loose until the sun popped out from behind the clouds. Then, all of a sudden, the car became too tight, again.
When Newman pitted for the fourth time – on the third green-flag stop of the day – he crossed the start/finish line as the race leader and earned five bonus points with the help of Nelson and Newman's spotter, who assisted in making the strategy call to get Newman the extra points.
On that same stop, Nelson had the Alltel crew put a half-round of wedge into the left rear, which seemed to help the car a great deal. Newman told his crew at one point that the car felt "pretty nice," but it would only be a few more laps before the car tightened up again and gave him more problems.
The next stop was on lap 140, which was when the track bar adjustment occurred that caused Newman's car to get too tight and dropped the Alltel Dodge out of the top five. When Newman came down for his last stop on lap 170, Nelson reversed the previous adjustments, but the move wasn't enough to help Newman fight his way back into the top five.
With only 30 laps remaining after his last stop, Newman fought off a charging Clint Bowyer. He was able to pass some lapped cars and get traffic in between him and Bowyer, but with less than 10 laps remaining, Bowyer passed the lapped cars and was coming on strong. Fortunately, Newman held on to earn his ninth top-10 finish of 2007.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Dodge Avenger in Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. ESPN and MRN Radio will cover the race beginning at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
Newman will also drive the No. 12 Dodge Charger in Saturday's Zippo 200 at The Glen in the NASCAR Busch Series. ESPN2 and MRN Radio will broadcast the race live on Saturday afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. EDT.