Newman Scores Sixth-Place Finish At Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Penske Racing driver Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge team ran as high as second-place and finished sixth in the Sharpie 500 on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was Newman’s eighth top-10 finish of the 2008 season.

With his strong finish, Newman gained two spots and moved into 15th place in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings, 181 points behind the 12th-place cutoff for the 2008 “Chase for the NASCAR Cup.”

“It was a good run for the Alltel Dodge,” Newman said after the race. “We got up to second place at one point in the race, got a little bit loose and fell back, but we held our own. I’m proud of my guys and how they battled here all night. It was a solid top-10 for our team and that’s a good day here at Bristol.”

Newman started in 11th place for the 500-lap event at the .533-mile concrete oval. Following final practice on Friday night, Newman told his Alltel team not to change anything on the car prior to the green flag, as he felt he had a solid car for the race.

Once the green flag dropped on Saturday night, Newman told his crew that his car was a little bit free before getting to the center of the corner but overall the car was good. By lap 50, Newman had moved into the top 10 of the fast-paced race. He did not fall out of the top 10 for the rest of the night.

As the first part of the race unfolded, Newman steadily gained on the cars in front of him. Thanks to a quick No. 12 machine, Newman was able to pass with ease at the tight short track. When the first caution of the night waved at lap 96, Newman had moved up to fourth place.

Before coming down pit road for his first stop of the night, Newman radioed his team and expressed his pleasure with the Alltel Dodge. “Leave it,” he said, instructing the crew that he didn’t want any changes. Newman came down pit road for four tires and fuel. He returned to the track in fourth place.

After 20 laps, Newman radioed his crew and said the car was a little bit tighter during the second green flag run of the night. Despite the tight-handling condition, Newman was running well and posted some of the quickest laps of anyone on the track. By lap 170, Newman had moved into the top three, and at lap 190, he was sitting in second spot.

Although happy with his car, Newman told his crew that he needed the car to be just a little bit “freer” on his next run to pick up more ground on the leaders.

When the caution flag waved at lap 195, the Alltel crew had the opportunity to assist Newman with the handling of his car. The pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment, returning Newman to the track in second place.

Following the restart, Newman couldn’t hold onto his runner-up position, dropping to sixth place when a multi-car accident between turns one and two brought out the red flag, stopping race action. Under the 12-minute red flag period, Newman told Alltel crew chief Roy McCauley that he thought the car’s low tire air pressures did not work well on restarts or shorter runs, which was why he slipped back in the running order.

When the race resumed, Newman remained in sixth spot. As a green-flag run progressed, Newman told his crew that he was too free all the way around the track, particularly exiting the corners. The caution flag waved again at lap 280, giving the crew the opportunity to work on the No. 12 machine.

At lap 289, Newman pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to assist him on shorter green flag runs. The team also made a wedge adjustment to help tighten up the Alltel Dodge on corner exits.

Newman returned to the track in sixth place, which he maintained for the remainder of the 500-lap event.

“We ran in sixth position for about 350 laps which is not a bad thing,” said Newman. “All in all, it was a good night for us. The restarts are hard to get around the lapped cars, so its hard to make gains on the guys running in front of you. All in all, it was a good night for us.”

Newman’s Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 15th and 37th, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday night, August 31, for the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway. The race can be seen live on ESPN at 7 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 7:15 p.m. EDT.

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