Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), overcame a pit road penalty two-thirds of the way through the 355k at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International to record a 14th-place finish.
“We lacked the track position that we needed all day,” said Newman, whose finish elevated him one position to 14th in the Sprint Cup championship point standings and into the second of two wild-card positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. “We couldn’t really make any forward progress; we just maintained our position throughout the first two-thirds of the race.
“Matt (Borland, crew chief) made the call to hit pit road when he saw that someone had an issue on the track. We were convinced that we had made it to pit road before NASCAR made the call to close it when the caution came out, but they saw otherwise. The call would have given us the track position we needed to go race the leaders, but instead it put us at the back of the field. We gained 18 positions or so over the final laps, so I’m pretty proud of the effort by all the guys on this Haas Automation team.”
Newman started 14th in the 43-car field and, despite having a Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet he thought was strong enough to make passes, decided to conserve fuel and take care of his equipment as the opening laps clicked off. Borland called Newman to pit road at lap 30 for routine service of four tires and fuel. A multi-car incident at lap 41 brought out the red flag, giving Borland and Newman the opportunity to discuss various adjustments and strategies for the end of the race.
Shortly after the red flag was lifted and green-flag racing resumed, Aric Almirola made heavy contact with the tire barrier just as the No. 39 team’s pit window opened. Borland instructed Newman to hit pit road, hoping to complete their scheduled service and rejoin the field ahead of the race leaders, who had not yet made their stops. But NASCAR deemed Newman and several other drivers made their stop after pit road had been closed. So Newman was penalized by being moved to the end of the longest line, relegating him to the 32nd position for the lap 63 restart.
Having completed his final scheduled pit stop of the day, Newman was tasked with climbing from the rear of the field. He was up to the task, avoiding multiple incidents in the closing laps and advancing 18 spots to the 14th position, where he would take the checkered flag.
“I haven’t seen the reply of when the lights went from green to red at the pit opening, but I feel confident that we were on pit road before the light changed,” Newman said. “But we were sent to the tail end of the longest line. It is what it is. We didn’t get the finish that I feel we were going to get, but a lot of the guys that we’re racing for points had misfortune, and that allowed us to gain some ground in the standings. We really could have capitalized had it not been for that penalty, but we can’t do anything about that now. We’ll head to Michigan next week and look to continue climbing our way into contention for making the Chase field.”
Newman’s SHR teammate Max Papis, interim driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he substitutes for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 15th. It was his second top-15 finish in four career Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th. It was Patrick’s 32nd career Sprint Cup start and her first at Watkins Glen.
Kyle Busch won the 355k at The Glen to score his 27th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his second career victory at Watkins Glen.
Brad Keselowski finished .486 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 21 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 90-lap race.
With round 22 of 36 complete, Newman leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up one spot to 14th place and has 605 points, 203 back of series leader Johnson and 20 behind 10th-place Truex. Stewart, who was forced to miss the race due to injury, dropped six spots to 17th with 594 points, 214 out of first and 31 points behind Truex. Patrick maintained her 27th-place standing and has 397 points, 411 behind Johnson and 228 away from 10th.
The No. 14 team is 11th in the owner standings with 623 points, 185 points behind the series-leading No. 48 team of Hendrick Motorsports.
Four 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.
Kasey Kahne, who is 12th in points, is the first wild card via his two wins, while Newman is the second wild card because he is the highest-standing driver between 11th and 20th with one victory.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished two spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 18th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, Aug. 18 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.
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