Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Quicken Loans team looked like they were on their way to “bringing home” a solid finish in the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, but their luck ran out before the checkered flag. With less than 30 laps to go, a flat tire halted Newman’s forward progress and resulted in an 18th-place finish.
The tire issue came under the final caution of the race at lap 166. Newman pitted for right-side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to tighten the handling of his Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS. Thanks to quick pit work and the team’s strategy, Newman gained 10 spots on pit road and was set to restart the race in seventh place.
But that plan was thwarted when Newman radioed that his left-rear tire was going flat. While still under caution, teammate Tony Stewart, who was beside Newman on the track, was able to look at the tire and told the crew the tire was definitely going flat and Newman needed to pit.
Still under the lengthy caution period, Newman was able to bring his car back down pit road to his crew, where it changed left-side tires and got him back on track before the race restarted. Upon examination, the crew confirmed that Newman’s tire had been punctured.
But Newman fell from seventh to 25th in the running order. And with track position crucial at Michigan, Newman couldn’t regain all the places lost due to the flat tire. He made up seven spots in the closing laps and finished 18th.
“That was a tough break for our Quicken Loans team,” Newman said. “When we came out seventh after that pit stop, and we finally had some track position and the clean air that we needed, I really thought that we were going to ‘Bring It Home’ for Quicken Loans and get another top-five finish and pay five people’s mortgages for a month. I really wanted to have a strong run for Quicken Loans in their race, in their backyard, so I’m pretty disappointed right now.”
Stewart led the way for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) by finishing fifth. Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, scored his 12th top-five in 29 career Sprint Cup starts at the 2-mile oval. It was also his third top-five this season.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 13th to score her third top-15 finish of the season.
Greg Biffle won the Quicken Loans 400 to score his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his fourth at Michigan.
Kevin Harvick finished 2.989 seconds behind Biffle in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Jeff Burton comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 38 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race.
With round 15 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up three spots to 10th and has 417 points, 121 back of series leader Jimmie Johnson and two points ahead of 11th-place Paul Menard. Newman maintained his 18th-place standing and has 389 points, 149 out of first and 28 behind Stewart. Patrick picked up one spot to 27th place in the standings and has 277 points, 261 behind Johnson and 140 away from Stewart.
Eleven 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 three spots ahead of Stenhouse, who placed 16th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Toyota/Save Mart 350k on Sunday, June 23 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT, with live coverage of the road-course event provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 2 p.m.