Newman Struggles In The Sun
October 28, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
During a test session at Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, Newman blew a right front tire and wrecked the primary car. The team did get some laps with the back-up car and planned to bring it for the race.
In Friday's practice Newman felt pretty comfortable with the car and the team prepared for qualifying. A late qualifying draw would hopefully be in Newman's favor but on the hot slick desert track anything was possible.
Newman locked up the left front brake on both of his laps trying to get the most out of his car and would have the 25th fastest lap once the entire field took a turn.
With only the race to concentrate on, Newman's Matt Borland-led crew focused on giving Newman a car that could charge through the field.
The race would not go as the team planned, though. Newman fought an ill-handling car for the entire event even as his team tried various adjustments to improve it. Luck ran out on lap 254 when Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch got together causing Busch to spin, leaving Newman no where to go but into the side of Busch's machine. Newman finished 40th.
"Someone got turned around and I went low," Newman said. "There was the 97 and I didn't have anywhere to go."