An ill-handling racecar hampered Ryan Newman for most of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, leading to a 13th-place finish in the non-points event.
Newman battled a tight-handling No. 39 Aspen Dental Chevrolet from the drop of the green flag. When rain midway through the first segment brought out the red flag, contrary to traditional rules, crews were permitted to make adjustments to their racecars before the race resumed some 45 minutes later. Crew chief Matt Borland elected to take four tires and make wedge and shock adjustments in hopes of getting the blue-and-white machine dialed in to Newman’s liking.
The Aspen Dental team decided to come to pit road at the end of the first three 20-lap segments, continuing to make multiple chassis adjustments to help improve the handling of Newman’s racecar. But it seemed those adjustments only made matters worse for Newman, as he continued to struggle with the handling.
Once the field took the green flag for the fourth 20-lap dash, Newman made an aggressive move that saw him make contact with the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch. The contact resulted in a tire rub, which fortunately was fixed after a timely caution flag was displayed at lap 67. Newman pitted, and the Aspen Dental team made the necessary repairs along with another wedge adjustment. By the end of the fourth segment, Newman was shown in the 15th position.
After coming to pit road for the mandatory pit stop at the end of the fourth segment, Newman started the fifth and final segment – which was just 10 laps – in 15th place. He continued to struggle over the final 10 laps and finished the night in 13th place.
“We battled a lack of grip, a lack of track position and handling issues all night,” said Newman, who has participated in each All-Star Race since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a rookie in 2002, the year he won the non-points event. “The front end wasn’t right tonight. The guys kept adjusting on the Aspen Dental Chevrolet, but it seemed like every adjustment had adverse effects. I don’t know that we would have been better toward the front of the pack and in clean air, but we never really had the opportunity to find out, either. I think we’ll be able to apply some of what we learned here tonight for next weekend.”
Jimmie Johnson won the All-Star Race, his record-breaking fourth victory in 12 All-Star starts, breaking a tie with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt for the most All-Star Race wins. Johnson’s past All-Star Race victories came in 2003, 2006 and 2012.
Joey Logano finished 1.722 seconds behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards comprised the remainder of the top-10.
McMurray won the Sprint Showdown to advance into the All-Star Race. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second to McMurray to also advance into the All-Star Race.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing Sunday, May 26 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning at 5:30 p.m.