Monday, October 1, 2007


Rain was the least of Ryan Newman’s problems on Sunday during the LifeLock 400 at Kansas Speedway, as Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, completed just 108 laps of the 210-lap rain-shortened race at the 1.5-mile track.

Newman started the day from the 42nd position after his qualifying time was disallowed for a low roof and a high right-rear quarter panel. The car was fast in Saturday’s practice sessions and Newman was happy with the car heading into Sunday’s race.

When the green flag dropped, Newman quickly made his way through the field and seemed to be on his way to the front. The yellow flag waved early and many of the lead-lap cars came in for fuel-only stops. Newman was still happy with the car for the most part, but informed crew chief Michael Nelson that the car was just a tick loose, so Nelson called for fuel and one round down on the right-side track bar.

The stop put Newman into the 16th position, but the first rain delay of the race would occur on lap 15 and last for 45 minutes 10 seconds.

When the race restarted on lap 19, Newman moved up to the 12th spot and made his way into the top 10 on lap 29 during the second of 12 caution periods.

The car was still loose when Newman came in for his second stop to receive four tires, fuel and one round down on the right-side track bar. Many teams took two tires only, leaving Newman to restart in 15th.

Newman informed his crew the car was still really loose and that it felt like there was a lack of air in the left-rear tire, but the loose condition would be the least of Newman’s problems.

On lap 38, he came on the radio and told his crew the motor was blowing up.

“I dropped a valve,” Newman radioed in. “I’m running on seven cylinders.”

Newman kept running, hoping a caution would come out and allow the Alltel crew to check under the hood. The caution finally came out on lap 60 and Newman was able to come in for work on the car.

After a four-tire-and-fuel stop, engine tuner John Payne was able to assess the extent of the damage to the engine. He found that valve six had broken, but he made temporary repairs in order to keep Newman in the race.

On lap 84, Newman thought the engine was ready to expire for good and reported smoke in the car. When the crew was able to get another look at the engine, they made more repairs and found that a piece of plastic was burning in the car, which was causing the smoke. By the time Newman got out of the pits, he was five laps down in the 40th position.

When Newman completed lap 108, he came back over the radio and told his crew the motor had expired completely and he was headed back to the garage.

The checkered flag flew after 210 laps – 57 laps short of a complete race – with Newman in 43rd place.

Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. This will be the first Car of Tomorrow race at a track larger than 1.366 miles. ABC and MRN Radio will broadcast the race live beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

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