Newman Battles To Sixth Place Finish

Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge were hampered by handling issues for much of the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, but determination and a key pit call near the end of the race led to a hard-earned sixth place finish.

"That's the perfect example of never giving up," Newman said after the race. "Each week in our team meeting, we talk about the big picture and not giving up. We struggled with the handling on the Alltel Dodge today, but we stuck with it. At the end Roy (McCauley - crew chief) made a good call to take two tires with just ten laps to go. We were able to pick up some valuable spots in the pits and then on the track.

"It didn't look like it was going to be a good night for the Alltel Dodge team, but we are happy with our finish."

With ten races completed in the NASCAR Cup Series, the Daytona 500 champion is 11th in the 2008 NASCAR Cup driver point standings, 283 points behind leader Kyle Busch. Newman has five top-ten finishes this season.

Newman started tenth on Saturday night at the .75-mile short track. By lap 10, Newman had radioed his crew that the Alltel Dodge was experiencing handling issues - the race car was tight in center and loose coming off the corners.

When the first caution of the day waved at lap 65, Newman had fallen to 12th place. The team pitted for four tires and fuel. They also made a track bar adjustment to help Newman in the center of the turn and a wedge adjustment to help him get off the corners better. Newman returned to the track in 11th place.

It only took a handful of laps before Newman told McCauley that the car was still tight in the center and loose getting off the corners. Although the car was handling better than in the first run, the team prepared to make more changes to help Newman's issues. Newman was able to stay in the top ten, but he was not happy with the car's handling.

Under the caution at lap 128, Newman came in for four tires, fuel, track bar and air pressure adjustments. He returned to the track in ninth place.

However, the changes the team made to the car didn’t help Newman's problem. As the green flag run progressed, Newman told his team that the car was the tightest it had been all night and he continued to be loose going into and coming off of the corners.

Newman dropped to 13th before the caution flag waved at lap 201. McCauley brought Newman down pit road to reverse the previous changes in hopes of helping the handling problems.

The Alltel Dodge's handling problems persisted throughout the race, but Newman battled to stay near the front. McCauley and the pit crew tried a variety of adjustments on a series of pit stops, but Newman continued to struggle with the car's drivability. Despite never falling out of the top 15, the car wasn't to Newman's liking.

A caution with just ten laps remaining in the race set up Newman's fifth top-10 of the season. McCauley brought Newman, who was running in the 14th place, down pit road under the caution flag for fresh right side tires. The quick pit stop sent Newman back on track in ninth place.

By lap 398, Newman had picked up three spots and was seventh on the track when the caution flag waved - setting up a green-white-checkered finish.

Newman was able to pick up one more spot over the final two laps, finishing in sixth place.

"That's the way to get something out of it," McCauley told Newman after the checkered flag waved.

"The Alltel Dodge wasn't what we expected to be," said Newman. "We were in the right place at the right time and capitalized late in the race. The guys never gave up."

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Saturday night at the Darlington Raceway. The race can be seen live on the FOX television network at 7 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 7:20 p.m. EDT.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2008, Ryan Newman

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