Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 9/2/14

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR driver Ryan Newman speaks at Las Vegas Motorspeedway for the Roast of four time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson during Day 1 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week on December 2, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ryan Newman struggled with an ill-handling Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS and finished 15th in the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Newman started 15th, but a tight-handling racecar saw him fall to 19th in the opening laps. Crew chief Matt Borland called for track bar and air pressure adjustments each time Newman came to pit road, which improved the handling characteristics of the car. But Newman continued to struggle as the laps clicked off, and his concerns of abusing the right-front tire saw him play it safe throughout the first half of the race. Shortly after a restart at lap 240, Joey Logano made a move to the outside of Newman’s Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet. As he made the move, Kasey Kahne dove to his inside, placing Newman in the middle of a three-wide scenario. Newman showed his displeasure in the following laps by hitting Kahne’s car from behind. Unfortunately, the contact had adverse effects for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver Newman, as tape was removed from the grille of his racecar, resulting in a change to the handling characteristics once again. A timely caution period at lap 293 gave Newman the opportunity he needed to hit pit road to rectify the situation. Another caution period just a handful of laps later saw Newman stay on the racetrack to gain track position, a move that would see him advance to fourth place at lap 321. But on the following restart, Newman began to drop through the field as he was unable to fend off the competition. When the checkered flag dropped, Newman was 15th. “It was a long, challenging night,” Newman said. “We didn’t hit on what we needed to with our Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet. Matt Borland and the guys kept working on it all night, and we made some improvements on it, but we never got it where we needed it to be. It certainly wasn’t the finish we were expecting tonight at Richmond, but I’ve got to thank all the guys at Stewart-Haas Racing for all their hard work.” Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 18th, while Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 29th. Kevin Harvick won the Toyota Owners 400 to score his 20th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Richmond. Clint Bowyer finished .343 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10. There were 11 caution periods for 75 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 406-lap race, which was extended six laps by a green-white-checkered finish. With round nine of 36 complete, Newman continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up one spot to 16th and has 229 points, 114 back of series leader Jimmie Johnson and 42 points behind 10th-place Paul Menard. Stewart fell one spot to 22nd place in the standings and has 207 points, 136 out of first and 64 behind Menard. Patrick dropped one spot to 26th place in the standings and has 169 points, 174 behind Johnson and 102 away from Menard. Seventeen 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. 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 13 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 16th. The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aaron’s 499 Sunday, May 5 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.
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