Ryan Newman, driver of the Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), overcame an ill-handling racecar and a series of slow stops on pit road throughout the GoBowling.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway to record a fourth-place finish.
“It was a good run for our Haas Automation Chevrolet but not as good as it could have been,” said Newman, who scored the win last week in the 20th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We struggled in the pits today, but overall it was a good effort. We raced a lot of the guys around us in points, guys that all have the same sense of urgency that we do to score a win, or another win, in my case. Jeff (Gordon) was really close, and he’s fighting for a wild-card spot just the same as we are. Just a bad day on pit road for us. We’ll have to get that figured out.”
Newman started fourth in the 43-car field and was able to maintain his position despite fighting a lack of grip in the opening segment of the 160-lap race. An incident involving Denny Hamlin brought out the caution at lap 14, and Newman came to the attention of his Matt Borland-led team for right-side tires and a track bar adjustment. A dropped lug nut resulted in a long stop, and Newman was relegated to the 18th position for the restart.
Borland continued to make chassis adjustments throughout the race, which saw Newman steadily climb his way toward the front of the pack. By the halfway point, the Haas Automation Chevrolet was scored in the fifth position, and Newman was able to maintain position inside the top-10 for the remainder of the race.
After making their final scheduled pit stop of the day at lap 131, Newman methodically worked his way forward from the ninth position and used a late-race restart to advance his racecar to the fourth position, where he would take the checkered flag.
“We had to overcome quite a bit today, but to finish fourth says something about Matt Borland and all the guys on this team,” said Newman, who scored his ninth top-five finish in 24 starts at Pocono. “It was good for the Quicken Loans group, as well, with their ‘Bring it Home’ sweepstakes. Five people are going to get their mortgages paid for a month as a result of this finish today. Go to QLRacing.com to find out more about that. And, obviously, it’ll be a Bloomin’ Monday for everybody from Outback Steakhouse.”
Newman’s SHR teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished ninth. It was his 22nd top-10 in 30 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono and his eighth top-10 of the season.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 35th in her 31st career Sprint Cup start and her second at Pocono. Patrick was running among the top-20 until becoming involved in an accident on lap 111. She was unhurt, but her car was too damaged to continue the race.
Kasey Kahne won the GoBowling.com 400 to score his 16th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Pocono.
Jeff Gordon finished 1.392 seconds behind Kahne in the runner-up spot, while Kurt Busch, Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Stewart and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 35 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 160-lap race.
With round 21 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He remained 11th and has 594 points, 178 back of series leader Jimmie Johnson and five points behind 10th-place Biffle. Newman gained one spot to rise to 15th. He has 575 points, 197 out of first and 24 behind Biffle. Patrick dropped one spot to 27th and has 373 points, 399 behind Johnson and 226 away from Biffle.
Five races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. In the event of multiple drivers having the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Stewart, Martin Truex Jr. and Newman are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory. Since Stewart and Truex sit 11th and 14th, respectively, in the standings, they hold the first and second wild-card spots.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished one spot behind Stenhouse, who placed 34th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the 355k at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 11 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.