Sprint Cup - Newman Race Report Richmond
Richmond, Sep. 9, 2012: Ryan Newman staged a valiant effort in the final race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but a good night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway just wasn’t good enough for Newman and the No. 39 Quicken Loans team in the Federated Auto Parts 400.
Coming into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ regular-season finale Saturday night, Newman and his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team knew they could only make the 12-driver, 10-race Chase one way – by winning. And for a while during the 400-lap race around the .75-mile oval, it looked as if Newman and his No. 39 Quicken Loans team would engineer an amazing rally to take the second of two wild-card spots and advance into the Chase.Despite driving from his 14th-place starting spot to take the lead on lap 300 and stay out front for 13 laps, Newman wound up eighth when the checkered flag dropped.
“It’s just disappointing,” said Newman, who earned his ninth top-10 finish of the season despite missing the Chase. “I really don’t know what to say. We really gave it all we had out there with our Quicken Loans Chevrolet. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t our year to make the Chase. Now we have to go out there and do what we have to do to be the best of the rest these next 10 races.”Newman and his team knew that earning a wild-card spot in the Chase was a tall order. It was “Win, and you’re in” for the No. 39 team.
Making the job even harder was a racecar that from the drop of the green flag was tight in the center of the track’s corners and loose on exit. The car’s inability to roll through the center thwarted Newman’s efforts to move toward the front.
Nonetheless, crew chief Tony Gibson and the Quicken Loans crew tuned the chassis with each opportunity, making a series of air pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments during each scheduled pit stop. The adjustments helped incrementally, but Newman still had to manhandle his car throughout the 400-lap race.
He went a lap down early as the leaders set a torrid pace, but Newman tenaciously kept those he was racing against at bay and remained the first car one lap down when the caution flag waved on lap 139. Newman was awarded the Lucky Dog and returned to the lead lap.
Later in the race, Newman was assessed a pit road penalty when an errant tire escaped from the grasp of his crew during a green-flag pit stop on lap 232. Then Newman – who had been running in seventh place before the pit stop – had to go to the tail end of the longest line on lap 239 and restart the race in 15th place.
When the caution flag waved on lap 277 for rain, Newman was 14th. He pitted for four tires, fuel and wedge and track bar adjustments. With a quick stop by his Quicken Loans crew, Newman restarted in ninth.
Thanks to fresh tires, better track position and a much-improved racecar, Newman moved into the top-five shortly after the lap-283 restart. And when he took the lead on lap 300, it marked the first time he had led a race since his victory April 1 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Unfortunately, Newman couldn’t hold on to the lead. The faster cars he had beaten with pit strategy finally caught him on the track, and he drifted back to eighth. While still a strong finish, it wasn’t the win Newman and Co. needed to earn a coveted wild-card spot in the Chase.