Monday, September 10, 2007
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 8, 2007) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger, had to overcome a myriad of problems during Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway to finish 11th.
Newman, who started in the fourth position for the fourth consecutive race, moved into second immediately and told his crew on the team's two-way radios that his car was very good. Even though he had fallen back to fourth by the time the first caution period began on lap 10, he informed his crew that the car was fine, nothing too much to worry about.
After the restart on lap 14, Newman again moved up to second. When the second of 12 caution flags waved on lap 24, most of the lead-lap cars pitted. Newman received only right-side tires and fuel, and won the race off pit road. On the restart, Casey Mears and David Gilliland were in front of Newman because they didn't pit, but within four laps, Newman had overtaken both cars and moved into the lead.
"The car is awesome," Newman radioed his crew when he took over the first position on lap 32.
For 33 laps, no one could catch Newman. Every lap, he was at least one second ahead of the second-place Jeff Gordon until the yellow waved on lap 63, allowing the field to close on Newman.
Newman came in for his second stop for four tires and fuel during the third caution period. A problem with the right-front tire caused Newman to lose two spots on pit road, and he had a hard time catching the frontrunners after the restart on lap 71, even though he was one of the fastest cars on the track.
Around lap 90, the car began to become extremely tight and it gave Newman problems, which led to the Alltel Dodge falling back in the field. Newman started running with his left-side tires on the apron to help him control the car due to the tightness, but he was still getting passed.
When the caution waved on lap 132, Newman told crew chief Michael Nelson that a pretty big change was needed in order to free the car. On his third stop, Newman received four tires, fuel, two rounds of wedge out of the left rear and two rounds up on the right-side track bar. Newman was able to pick up a position for the restart, but now the car was just a tick too loose after the adjustments.
On lap 182, leader Carl Edwards' car blew an engine, bringing out another caution, and Newman came in for more adjustments on his Dodge. Nelson ordered air pressure adjustments only and gave Newman four tires and fuel.
After the restart on lap 190, Newman passed Jimmie Johnson for fourth, but then the car suddenly became way too loose and he dropped to sixth. Newman's biggest problem was on the exit of the corners. He remained on the track during the next caution period and when the field took the green again, the car was too loose. That caused Newman to fall to seventh.
Newman came in for his fifth stop on lap 236. He received four tires, fuel, two rounds down on the right-side track bar and Nelson had tire specialist Whit Satterwhite go back on the right-side pressures. Three lead-lap cars stayed out during the stops. That left Newman restarting sixth, but the yellow would soon wave again and this time, Newman was caught in the melee.
On lap 242, Newman hit the wall after Matt Kenseth spun the Alltel Dodge, causing a multi-car accident. Teammate Kurt Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya also were involved in the wreck, but luckily for the Penske teammates, the damage to their cars was primarily superficial, mostly sheet metal damage. Montoya, on the other hand, had severe damage to his car's front that caused a fire to erupt, eliminating Montoya from the race. The extensive damage also resulted in an 8-minute 18-second red flag. NASCAR stopped the cars on pit road while the track was cleaned.
Newman restarted in 26th, but he was able to fight his way through the field.
On lap 268, Newman passed two cars to climb into the top 20. Battling a little looseness in his Dodge, Newman had maneuvered his way into the top 15 by lap 285. Now, he was looking toward the top 10.
Another multi-car accident on lap 294 caused another red flag, this one for 19 minutes 33 seconds. When the cars were rolling again, the lead-lap cars came in for another round of pit stops. This time Newman received four tires, fuel and one round of wedge in the left rear.
After moving into 13th, Newman and Kevin Harvick battled for quite a few laps for that position, passing each other every few laps. Finally, Newman won the fight and on lap 335, the Alltel Dodge was back in the top 10.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't last.
The field pitted again on lap 338. Newman was supposed to get four tires, fuel and one-and-a-half rounds down on the right-side track bar. However, the jack broke as soon as it went under the car and the lengthy visit on pit road caused Nelson to change the stop to right-side tires only in order to keep Newman from losing too many spots. Newman lost three spots when the field restarted, but he wasn't able to make up any ground, as the yellow came back out before the field could even make one green-flag lap.
While the NASCAR crews were cleaning up the mess from another blown engine, Newman informed his crew that he might have an alternator going bad and Nelson told the crew to get ready to change the battery if needed. Newman felt he had enough power to get through the race, though, and he never returned to pit road.
Newman made his way up to 12th and when Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car blew an engine in the closing laps, Newman moved up to 11th where he would be when the checkered flag waved on lap 400.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Mobil 1 Dodge Avenger in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. ABC and MRN Radio will broadcast the race live beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.