Newman Finishes 13Th At Dover

DOVER, Del. – Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Penske Racing Alltel Dodge team ran in the top-15 for most of the afternoon in Sunday’s Camping World RV 400, climbing as high as second place at the one-mile Dover International Speedway, before crossing the finish line in 13th place.

Newman is now 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 230 points out of 13th place, with eight races remaining in the 2008 Cup Series season.

On Friday, Newman qualified 19th at Dover International Speedway, a track where he had qualified outside of the top 10 only three other times in 13 starts. Although disappointed with his qualifying run, Newman was confident the team had a top-10 car after two practice sessions on Saturday.

With the drop of the green flag on Sunday, Newman began to patiently make his way through the field. By lap 25, Newman had moved up to 13th place. He told crew chief Roy McCauley that the No. 12 Dodge was a too tight in general and that he had no grip.

Despite the tight handling condition, Newman held his 13th-place spot until the caution flag waved at lap 64. Under the caution period, the team changed four tires, added fuel, made air pressure adjustments to the right side tires and made a track bar adjustment. Newman returned to the track in 14th place.

Over the course of the next 70 laps, Newman held strong in 14th place. He told the crew that the car was still too tight in the center of the turns. Under a caution at lap 142, the team once again made adjustments to the car in hopes of helping Newman’s tight-handling condition and grip issues. The team changed four tires, added fuel, and made another air pressure and track bar adjustment. Newman returned to the track in 16th place for the restart at lap 148.

Just a handful of laps into the run, Newman radioed crew chief McCauley: “The car doesn’t feel bad. I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said. “It just isn’t good in dirty air.”

Newman continued to battle the ill-handling race car in traffic, so as multiple caution flags flew in a short period of time the team opted to stay out on the race track in hopes of getting Newman into cleaner air and also to gain valuable track position in hopes of a solid finish at the end of the day.

At lap 190, Newman had moved into second place. He was able to hold on to the runner-up spot until the team was forced to pit under the green flag at lap 237 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.

The different pit strategies among the front runners meant that Newman would drop to 29th place, one lap down to the leaders, before getting back on the lead lap and moving into the top five at lap 270 when green flag stops cycled through.

A key caution flag waved at lap 291 with Newman in seventh place. With everyone back on the same pit strategy, Newman brought the Alltel Dodge down pit road for four tires and fuel. Newman restarted in ninth place.

Newman wasn’t able to stay in the top 10 for long. Newman radioed that the No. 12 machine was too loose and complained that he didn’t have any grip. Newman’s loose race car led to him falling back to 16th before the caution flag waved at lap 350.

With 50 laps to go in the race and only 17 cars on the lead lap, Newman and the Alltel team decided to gamble on the final pit stop of the day. The team pitted for right side tires, an air pressure adjustment, a track bar adjustment and fuel.

“We’re going to gamble,” McCauley said prior to the stop. “The worst we can do is fall back to where we were, but hopefully, we can get a top 10 out of this.”

Newman was able to hold on to a top 10 spot for a handful of laps, but several cars with four fresh tires passed him in the closing laps of the race. Newman finished 13th.

“We had to play strategy and catch up every time by not pitting when everybody else pitted and taking two tires when everybody else took four there at the end,” Newman said following the race. “We just didn’t have a good enough car to keep up with them today, and that’s the only way we could stay on the lead lap.”

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished 34th and 42nd, respectively.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday, September 28, at the Kansas Speedway with the Camping World RV 400. The race can be seen live on the ABC television network at 1 p.m. EDT and heard on the MRN radio network at 1:15 p.m. EDT.

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