A loose-handling racecar hampered Ryan Newman for most of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and led to a 10th-place finish in the non-points event. It was Newman’s seventh top-10 finish in 11 career All-Star Races.
It took nearly 80 laps and six pit stops with multiple adjustments for Newman to finally get the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet to his liking. And while Newman’s car handled the way he wanted, he was mired deep in the field and didn’t have the track position needed to be a contender in the final 10-lap dash for $1 million.
“Honestly, it was too little too late for us,” said Newman, who has participated in each All-Star Race since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a rookie in 2002, the same year that he won the non-points event. “The Tornados Chevy was way too loose, but we finally got the car right during that last caution period. But in the end we didn’t have the track position to go with it.”
Newman battled a loose racecar from the drop of the green flag. The Tornados team pitted at the end of the first three 20-lap segments to work on the racecar, making multiple chassis and air pressure adjustments to help improve the loose-handling condition. But it wasn’t until an extended caution during the fourth segment that the team finally hit on a series of adjustments that helped Newman’s ill-handling racecar.
During the extended caution period beginning at lap 67, Newman’s team pitted three times to make wholesale changes to the No. 39 Chevy. Newman restarted in 16th-place at lap 74. By the end of the fourth segment, he had moved into the 13th position and told his crew that his car was the “best it had been.”
Newman started the final segment in 11th place. While his racecar was right, the track position wasn’t there. He finished the night in 10th place.
For Newman & Company, the 90-lap All-Star Race served as test session for the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday evening at Charlotte – a point-paying race that also happens to be the longest event on the Sprint Cup schedule.
“That’s probably the best thing that came out of the race,” Newman said. “I just didn’t have any confidence in the car for most of the race. We got it right there at the end, and I think that’s going to help us figure out where we need to be going in to next weekend’s race.”
Teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/National Wild Turkey Federation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished 17th.
Jimmie Johnson won the All-Star Race. It was his third All-Star Race win and his ninth Sprint Cup victory at Charlotte.
Brad Keselowski finished .841 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.