Newman Scores Top 15 Finish At Las Vegas

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Las Vegas, Nev. – Ryan Newman, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, battled an ill-handling race car throughout the day and fought his way to a hard-earned 14th-place finish on Sunday in the UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We just couldn’t get a handle on our Alltel Dodge today,” Newman said. “Junk was the word I used on the radio. We were a top-10 car for part of the day, and then we weren’t and we just never got it back. After the way the car handled, we’re satisfied to come out with a top-15 finish. We have to keep having solid finishes each week to make the Chase later in the season.”

With his 14th-place result, Newman is third in the NASCAR Cup point standings after three races, trailing series leader and Las Vegas race winner Carl Edwards by 41 points.

Newman started the UAW-Dodge 400 in 15th place on Sunday afternoon. Only four laps into the race, Newman radioed to his crew that his Alltel Dodge was too loose. He also told crew chief Roy McCauley that he didn’t like the feel of his left front shock, which would hamper Newman’s efforts throughout the day.

When the caution flag waved on lap nine, the Alltel pit crew had their first of several opportunities to adjust the handling of the race car. Newman, who was running in 16th place, came down pit road for a track bar adjustment and fuel.

He restarted the race in the 18th position.

While Newman struggled to pick up spots on the race track, he told his crew that the car didn’t have any grip. By lap 50, as green flag pit stops began, Newman was in 11th place but he was now dealing with a tight race car that was tough to handle.

The Alltel pit crew went to work on lap 55. The team changed four tires, added fuel and made an air pressure and wedge adjustment in hopes of helping the car. When the green flag stops cycled through, Newman was shown in 16th place.

The adjustments appeared to help Newman’s difficulties with the car as he worked his way up to 10th place on the track when the yellow flag waved again on lap 69.

Newman told his crew that the car was now “a tick on the free side.” But the 2008 Daytona 500 winner said his biggest problem was that it didn’t feel like he was using the left front of his car at all.

After pitting for two tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment, Newman returned to the track in ninth place.

The adjustments were not enough to help Newman gain any more ground. The car remained a little too free and Newman slid back to 11th place, so the team pitted once again under the caution at lap 110. This time, the No. 12 crew changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment.

However, as Newman took to the track, the car once again was too loose – especially when cars were behind him. Newman struggled to find a line where the Alltel Dodge would perform at its best.

On lap 145, Newman pitted under caution for four tires, fuel and air pressure and track bar adjustments. He returned to the race track in the 11th position, but Newman radioed McCauley that the car again was way too loose.

“You’ve got to tighten me up,” Newman said when the caution flag waved for a wreck that happened directly behind the No. 12 Alltel Dodge a few laps later.

Newman returned to pit lane on lap 163. The Alltel crew changed right side tires and made another track bar adjustment. Newman was nearly pinned in his pit box by the No. 41 Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson, who was in front of him. The problems in the pits led to Newman restarting the race in 13th place.

The difficulties with the loose-handling car continued for Newman.

“We’re going to get a good finish out of this,” McCauley told his driver. “Just stay calm and find your rhythm.”

As the laps ticked away on the board, Newman told his crew that his biggest problem with the car was that it was loose getting into the turns. He still didn’t like the feel of the left front shock and he was lacking grip, and the car was too loose to make any moves on the race track.

The crew made a series of pit stops during the next 100 laps to try and fix the car’s handling.

“I just don’t like the way it handles,” Newman told his crew at lap 233 when he came in for yet another stop. This time, the crew changed four tires, added fuel and made wedge and track bar adjustments.

Following this pit stop, Newman was penalized by NASCAR for being too fast entering pit lane. He was sent to the tail end of the longest line and he restarted in 20th place with just 30 laps remaining in the race.

Again, Newman told his crew that the car didn’t really improve with the changes. He was still loose getting into the corners and he still couldn’t find any grip on the track. Newman was running 19th.

When the caution waved for a wreck on lap 257, the team debated coming down pit road to change the left front shock that Newman had complained about during the course of the race. However, the team called off the stop and Newman drove straight through pit road. He restarted in 12th place on lap 262.

Just five laps later, Newman took the checkered flag in 14th place for his third consecutive top-15 finish to start the season.

“Thanks for the effort and for just hanging in there today,” McCauley told Newman after the race. “I’m sorry we didn’t do a better job adjusting the car for you, but this is something we will work on.”

After two days of testing at Phoenix International Raceway on Monday and Tuesday, the No. 12 Alltel Dodge will return to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 9 for the Kobalt Tools 500. The race can be seen on FOX beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET and heard live on PRN Radio.



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