Date: April 22, 2012
Event: STP 400 (Round 8 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 13th/20th (Running, completed 265 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 10th (249 points, 63 out of first)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Ryan Newman finished 20th in the STP 400 Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., after he was forced to the pits for an unscheduled stop with what he thought was a deflating tire with just 70 laps remaining. Newman exited the pits one lap down to the leaders in the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing, ending his shot at a top-10 finish.
“I told the guys I was sorry after the race,” Newman said. “I don’t know what the deal was with that tire, but there was something wrong. The car got way, way tight and started chattering really bad right after we restarted the race (the crew had pitted under caution at lap 188 for right-side tires). I thought we had a right-front issue, so I brought the car in.
“We fought with the handling of our Haas Automation Chevy all day, but (Tony) Gibson and the team worked on it every stop, and it had gotten better. We had a fast racecar, and I think we would have had a top-10 finish if we wouldn’t have had that problem.”
The disappointing chain of events began immediately following the team’s pit stop on lap 188, when Newman pitted under caution for right-side tires and fuel. Newman restarted 13th. Once the race restarted, Newman radioed his crew that his racecar was “plowing.” Just seconds later, he came back on the radio and told his crew to be ready because he believed he had a right-front tire going down.
A lap later, Newman felt the car was getting worse, so he chose to bring his Haas Automation Chevy to the pits for four fresh tires and fuel.
Unfortunately, once the crew examined the tires that were removed from the No. 39 Chevy, there were no apparent issues as all four tires had the appropriate amount of air.
The disappointment continued for Newman as there was not another caution flag before the end of the race, so he was unable to make up the ground lost to the leaders.
“He did the right thing bringing the car in when he did,” Gibson said after the race of Newman’s decision. “When the driver feels like he has a tire going down and there’s an issue like that with the car, we can’t take a chance at not coming down pit road and having something happen. We’ll figure out what was wrong.
“I don’t think we gave Newman the best car today, but we were able to work on it, and I think we got it about right for him at one point. And the guys had really good pit stops all day long.”
Teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil Chevrolet for SHR, finished 13th.
Denny Hamlin won the STP 400 to score his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Kansas.
Martin Truex Jr. finished .700 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were three caution periods for 18 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
With round eight of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is eighth with 265 points, 47 behind series leader Biffle. Newman is 10th with 249 points, 63 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Richmond 400 on Saturday, April 28 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.