Throughout the Capital City 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, it seemed Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Army Reserve Chevrolet was just one small adjustment away from being a top-10 racecar.
Unfortunately, Newman and crew chief Tony Gibson just couldn’t find the magic combination, and the Army Reserve team had to settle for a respectable 15th-place finish at the .75-mile oval.
Newman started 12th and said early that his car was loose on the entry and exit of the corners, but tight in the center of the turns. In what would become a recurring theme throughout the night, Gibson tried a series of chassis and tire pressure adjustments, and each time the car’s handling would improve slightly.
But Newman reported with 125 laps remaining that his car was the same as it was at the beginning of the race, even though track conditions evolved throughout the night as more rubber was laid down and temperatures got cooler.
Two more pit stops – and two more attempts at chassis and tire pressure changes – did little to improve the handling of the car. Newman had to settle for 15th.
“I think we had a pretty good Army Reserve Chevrolet,” Newman said. “We just couldn’t quite get it to the point where we could roll the center of the corner well enough to compete with the top-10 guys. Tony Gibson and the Army guys did all they could to adapt and overcome, just like our Army Strong Soldiers do. We’ll get back to the shop and get ready for Talladega and hope that we complete our mission, which is to win the race. It wasn’t the finish we were hoping for, but our Soldiers don’t get down and give up, and neither do we. We’ll come back stronger next week.”
Newman’s Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, led four times for 118 laps en route to finishing third.
Kyle Busch won the Capital City 400 to score his 24th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his fourth at Richmond. Busch has won four consecutive spring races at Richmond, breaking a tie with Richard Petty, who won three straight spring races at Richmond from 1971 through 1973.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 1.095 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 31 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
With round nine of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is eighth with 307 points, 31 behind series leader Greg Biffle. Newman is 10th with 278 points, 60 out of first.