Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR), had high hopes for another strong showing Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, but an ill-handling racecar and a pair of right-front tire failures caused him to finish a disappointing 40th in the Subway Fresh Fit 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
From the drop of the green flag, Newman struggled with a loose-handling Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS. Despite his struggles, Newman managed to hold position inside the top-20 until a tire failure at lap 100 sent the red-and-white machine into the outside retaining wall. The Quicken Loans team made repairs to its battered racecar, and Newman rejoined the field just one lap down to the race leaders. As Newman logged laps, another tire failure at lap 142 sent the No. 39 Chevrolet into the outside retaining wall, leaving the racecar damaged beyond repair and Newman with a 40th-place finish, dropping him to 20th in points.
“We blew a right front, and I wasn’t real sure why,” Newman said. “I don’t know if we melted a bead or what it was, but that set the stage for blowing the right front the second time. We didn’t have enough caution laps to get it fixed and fixed right. The sway bar wasn’t hooked up, the splitter was off. It was a tough day for our Quicken Loans Chevrolet. We had a decent car. We just didn’t get to show it, track position-wise.”
Tony Stewart led the way for SHR by finishing eighth. Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, scored his 12th top-10 in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at the 1-mile oval.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 39th after right-front tire failure caused her to make hard contact with the outside wall while running in 26th place. It was Patrick’s 12th career Sprint Cup start but only her second at Phoenix.
Carl Edwards won the Subway Fresh Fit 500k to break a 70-race winless streak. His last victory came March 6, 2011 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Today’s win marked the 20th Sprint Cup victory of his career and his second at Phoenix.
Five-time Sprint Cup champion and reigning Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson finished 1.024 seconds behind Edwards in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 43 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 316-lap race, which was extended four laps by a green-white-checkered finish.
With round two of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 20th, 46 points behind series leader Johnson. Patrick stands 22nd, 48 points out of first. Stewart is 23rd, 51 points behind Johnson.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 23 spots behind Stenhouse (16th).
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday, March 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.