For just the second time in nine career races at Texas Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman earned a top-five finish in Sunday's Dickies 500.
Newman's only other top-five came in 2003 when he won the Samsung 500 after starting third. All of Newman's remaining seven races at the 1.5-mile track have resulted in finishes of 16th or lower.
Newman, who qualified 11th for Sunday's 334-lap race, had his share of issues during the event, but he was able to overcome them to finish fifth.
After taking the green flag, Newman moved up to seventh before 10 circuits were completed at the Texas track. He complained of his car being just a tick loose getting in and out of the corners and tight when he was in dirty air.
When the first of 12 caution flags waved on lap 15, Newman was still riding in seventh before coming in for his first pit stop. Crew chief Mike Nelson decided a two-tire stop was all that was needed and Newman received right-side tires, fuel and a half round of wedge in the left rear. The 6.62-second stop took Newman up to second for the restart non lap 19.
Newman fell back to fourth after just one lap, but radioed to his crew that he had spun the tires pretty bad on the restart, which caused him to lose the positions.
A third caution period that begun on lap 30 brought in many of the cars in the back of the field, while many of the front-runners remained on the track. However, after taking the green flag again on lap 33, the yellow flag would wave again on lap 36. This time, the front-runners came in, which put them in the middle of the field. Newman came in for left-side tires, fuel and a half round of wedge in the left rear. The stop lasted only 5.44 seconds, but with many cars staying out during the stop, Newman restarted in 21st.
After the green flag waved, Newman began making his way back up through the field. In 16 laps, Newman was back inside the top 15 and still climbing.
Newman was up to third, but still fighting a loose condition in his car getting into the corners when he made his first green-flag pit stop on lap 91. For the first time in the race, Nelson called for four tires, fuel and three-quarters of a round of wedge out of the right rear.
Newman came out of the pits in 14th, but was once again moving forward before the car became aero tight, especially in the middle, and halted Newman's progress toward the front of the field.
Nelson brought the Alltel Dodge back down pit road on lap 120 for four tires, fuel and a half round of wedge in the right rear during the fifth caution period. When the caution came out again on lap 132, Newman stayed out to take over the second position behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Newman challenged Earnhardt Jr. for the lead on lap 142, but Kyle Busch, who had four fresh tires, was able to get by both drivers to take over the No. 1 position. Newman finally got by Earnhardt Jr. on lap 145 just as the caution flag waved again.
For 35 laps, Newman ran second behind Busch before he had to come in for his second green-flag pit stop on lap 180 for four tires and fuel. Prior to the stop, Newman relayed to his crew that the car's balance was definitely better and was maybe just a tick tight in the center.
After the 15.48-second, green-flag stop, Newman was one lap down in 24th, but it wouldn't be long before the rest of the leaders had to make their own green-flag stops and Newman began to head toward the front again.
On lap 190, Newman was back on the lead lap and quickly moving toward the top 10.
Newman made his way into the top five on lap 202, but radioed in that the left-front tire felt like it was down. However, Newman remained in fifth until lap 228 when the car began to get tight.
The 10th caution on lap 233 allowed Newman to bring the Alltel Dodge down pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a half round of wedge in the right rear. Newman moved up to fourth from seventh when he came off pit road, but after the restart, the car was still too tight.
Newman remained in the top 10 for the rest of the 501-mile race and was even able to lead four laps after a caution on lap 298 saw him come down pit road for right-side tires and fuel only. The risky call on Nelson's part put Newman in the lead when many of the lead-lap cars took four tires.
After earning five bonus points, Newman lost the lead to Matt Kenseth on the lap 306 restart. With only 28 laps remaining, Newman's goal was to hang on to his top five run while facing drivers who had four fresh tires compared to his two.
When the checkered flag waved on lap 334, Newman was fifth in the Alltel Dodge.
"It was a good run for us to finish in the top five with the Alltel Dodge," Newman said following the race. "Nevertheless, we didn't have the best racecar on the short run. We had a decent racecar in the long runs. The short runs got us behind and we had a few of those there at the end. The two tire call was a good one to get track position. We just didn't have a fast enough racecar to stay up front."
With its quick work on pit road during the race, the No. 12 Alltel Dodge team earned its third Checker's/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge Award, which is given to the team that finishes on the lead lap and spends the least amount of time on pit road during the race. The Alltel Dodge crew also received the award after the June Dover race and the August Pocono event.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Avenger in the Checkers Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. ABC and MRN Radio will broadcast the final Car of Tomorrow race this season before the car runs a full schedule in 2008 beginning at 3 p.m. EST.