Ryan Newman looked to contend for his fifth top-10 finish of the 2013 season in the STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., but a lack of speed over the closing laps saw former Kansas winner Newman fade to 14th at the checkered flag.
Newman struggled early with a tight-handling No. 39 Code 3 Associates Chevrolet, dropping from his ninth-place starting spot to as low as 25th at lap 80. Crew chief Matt Borland kept calling for chassis adjustments on each pit stop, but the changes were eventually too much, as the racecar began to break loose exiting the corners at each end of the 1.5-mile speedway.
As the field remained under green flag conditions at the mid-point of the 267-lap race, the leaders began coming to pit road for their scheduled stops. Borland left Newman on the track, and the No. 39 was displayed at the top of the leaderboard for two laps. A handful of laps later, a single-car spin on the backstretch brought out the caution flag. Borland and Newman agreed to stay on the track rather than come to pit road, a move that saw Newman advance to the fifth position for the restart.
Over the closing laps of the race, Newman struggled with a lack of speed. He waged spirited battles, fighting for each position, but fell to 14th in the closing laps.
“We struggled a little bit today with our Code 3 Associates Chevrolet,” Newman said. “The guys made good adjustments, and we used pit strategy to get some track position toward the end of the race, but we didn’t have the speed we needed to keep it up there. It was a good effort by everyone on this No. 39 team. We learned a lot today. We’ll head to Richmond next week and see what we can do there.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 25th in her 18th career Sprint Cup start and her second at Kansas.
Matt Kenseth won the STP 400 to score his 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Kansas.
Kasey Kahne finished .150 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Mark Martin and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 40 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
With round eight of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings but dropped one spot to 17th. He has 200 points, 111 back of series leader Johnson and 40 points behind 10th-place Menard. Stewart moved up one spot to 21st in the standings and has 181 points, 130 out of first and 59 behind Menard. Patrick also moved up one spot and is 25th with 154 points, 157 behind Johnson and 86 away from Menard.
Eighteen 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 drivers 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. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 14 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 11th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday, April 27 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.