The Chase - Newman Race Report
Baby steps may not be quite what Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Cookies for Kids’ Cancer/Gene Haas Foundation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team were looking to take as they tried to vault themselves back into Chase for the Sprint Cup contention during Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
But after soldiering home with their first top-10 finish since the opening Chase race four weekends ago at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Newman and his No. 39 SHR teammates leave Charlotte knowing they made at least a little progress – as hard-earned as it was.
Newman started sixth for tonight’s 500-mile event around the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway oval and weathered persistent but relatively minor handling issues that were enough to hamper his ability to drive his way up in the running order but not enough to prevent him from maintaining his position solidly in the top-10. He even led a half-dozen laps just prior to the 100-lap mark thanks to a crafty two-tire pit stop.
Later, just short of the 200-lap mark, Newman suffered what turned out to be only a temporary setback when a lengthy pit stop dropped him all the way back to 15th, but he was able to make his way back into the top-10 thanks to quick work by the No. 39 crew over the next two rounds of pit stops.
And in the end, after flirting with a top-five finish with just 35 laps to go, Newman proved his mettle in holding onto a 10th-place finish while a handful of competitors who pitted for fresh tires during a late-race caution were able to work their way past him in the closing laps.
“We got a good, solid top-10, and we needed to get at least that much out of it tonight,” said Newman, who scored his eighth top-10 finish in 22 career starts at Charlotte. “I sure wish we could’ve finished a whole lot better than that. The balance of the car wasn’t all that bad through the course of the night, but we just didn’t seem to have the speed we needed to finish any better than we did. We had one bad pit stop in the middle of the race that cost us about five spots, but we made that up by the end of the race. We just didn’t have quite what we needed at the end to give us a better finish than we ended up with. We’ll take a top-10 here tonight and now it’s on to the next one.”
“We felt like we had a decent race car,” added crew chief Tony Gibson. “Our balance was pretty good. We really didn’t do anything, a little bit of wedge and air pressure. Track position was huge and we lost it there about midway through the race. We had a bad pit stop and got back to like 14th or something and just kind of maintained right there. Then we climbed back up inside the top-10 and that was where we were running – eighth, ninth, 10th – doing pretty decent. I probably screwed up there at the end. I thought those guys who had just pitted for tires wouldn’t pit again and they did, right behind us. Two or three of them got around us. We probably should have pitted but, in those situations, you just never know what’s the right deal to do. I was hoping more of the leaders might pit. But, just a solid top-10 day for us, so we’ll take it. Build on that. We needed a good run. We needed a solid run to build off of so we’ll take it. It’s a push in the right direction and we’ll go to Talladega.”