Teammate Stewart Captures 1st Victory of Season
JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 19, 2011) — Despite his U.S. Army Medicine Chevrolet running out of fuel on Turn 2 of the final lap, Ryan Newman still managed to bring home a strong finish as he coasted to the checkered flag in eighth place in Monday’s rain-delayed Geico 400, the opening event in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Newman appeared to have a top-five finish in hand as he took the white flag in fourth place. But as was the case with a number of other teams on the final lap his car’s fuel cell had gone dry.
Newman’s last pit stop for fuel came during a caution on Lap 215 of 267. When the race was restarted on Lap 218 it stayed green for the final 49 laps.
“Our race was really strong – I was proud of the guys,” said Newman. “Our fuel mileage wasn’t what it needed to be, but in the end, we got a top-10. I ran out of fuel coming off of turn two. I got past Jimmie (Johnson) — I think he ran out coming to the white (flag). It was kind of a crazy deal, but we were still able to capitalize in our U.S. Army Medicine Chevrolet. It could have been worse I guess – we could have run out of fuel earlier on the final lap.”
Newman’s teammate and team owner, Tony Stewart, won the race, his first victory of the season.
“I am proud of Tony and the (No.) 14 team for their comeback today,” stated Newman. “The victory gives our Stewart-Haas Racing shop some momentum.”
After the first Chase race, Newman is tied for sixth in points with Brad Keselowski, but is listed as seventh due to the tiebreaker going to Keselowski for more season wins. Newman is 14 points behind Chase leader Kevin Harvick. Stewart is ranked second, seven points from the lead. (see Chase point standings below)
Newman, who started the 267-lap, 400-mile race at Chicagoland Speedway from the fourth position, never ran lower than eighth the entire race. He also led twice for 18 laps and picked up an important bonus point for leading a lap.
“What I learned today was that we have a better mile-and-a-half program than I thought we did,” said Newman. “That’s huge because 50 percent of the Chase races (five) are at the mile-and-a-half tracks. We had a strong run today and it feels good to start off the Chase with this type of performance.”
While Newman is excited about the Army’s team performance in the Chase opener, he is even more excited about returning to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Sunday’s (Sept. 25) Sprint Cup race. He dominated the New Hampshire race in June, winning the event from the pole.
‘It’s about confidence, consistency and momentum and that’s what we have right now,” noted Newman. “Yes, I look forward to New Hampshire — it’s a track where I’ve had plenty of success.”
Following Stewart to the checkered flag at Chicagoland were: Kevin Harvick (second), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (third), Carl Edwards (fourth) and Brad Keselowski (fifth).
Chase Point Standings After Round 1
1. Kevin Harvick, 2054 points
2. Tony Stewart, 2047
3. Carl Edwards, 2044
4. Kurt Busch, 2043
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2041
6. Brad Keselowski, 2040
7. Ryan Newman, 2040
8. Jimmie Johnson 2038
9. Kyle Busch, 2035
10. Matt Kenseth, 2030
11. Jeff Gordon, 2029
12. Denny Hamlin, 2013