Ryan Newman and the No. 39 U.S. Army Racing Team represented the mental, emotional and physical strength of the U.S. Army Soldier by gutting out a hard-fought 21st-place finish in the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, despite going down a lap early due to an untimely caution flag and battling an ill-handling car for the entire race.
“Today just wasn’t our day, but Tony Gibson and the U.S. Army crew gave it all they had,” Newman said. “Our U.S. Army Soldiers don’t get down and don’t give up, and neither do we. We got a lap down early, and we never could get that lap back. Then we battled with our car all day long. But the guys kept making changes and refused to quit on getting the car to where I could drive it.
“It wasn’t what we wanted, for sure. We still have some work to do, and we’re not going to stop until we successfully complete our mission. We have seven more races to get our No. 39 U.S. Army Chevy back to victory lane. We’ll try again next week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.”
Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), went a lap down to the leaders due to an untimely caution flag on lap 69. Just before the caution flag waved, Newman committed to pit, so the timing caught him in a precarious position.
Newman passed through pit road to avoid a penalty for stopping before pit road was open, going one lap down to the leaders. Once pit road was open, he brought his Chevy back to the attention of his pit crew for four tires, fuel, track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments.
He restarted the race at lap 76 in ninth place, one lap down to the leaders.
Unfortunately, Newman and many other drivers never got the opportunity to get that lap back due to more mistimed caution periods. Newman also was hampered by an ill-handling car throughout the 400-lap race. The car’s handling swayed from too loose to too tight to too loose, once again.
Despite the complex handling issues, crew chief Tony Gibson and the No. 39 team made a variety of chassis adjustments at each pit stop to try and improve the racecar. But the car never responded. Only six cars finished on the lead lap, while Newman completed 397 of the 400 circuits around the 1-mile concrete oval.
“Dover has been a tough track for our team,” Gibson said. “We just haven’t been able to get the car right, but we’re going to keep fighting, and we are not going to give up. That’s how our team has been from day one. We fight and don’t give up, just like our Soldiers, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. This won’t get us down.”
Newman’s teammate and co-owner, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, finished 20th.
SHR driver Danica Patrick, who is driving the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing via a collaborative agreement with SHR, finished 28th.
Brad Keselowski won the AAA 400 to score his ninth career Sprint Cup victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Dover.
Jeff Gordon finished 1.078 seconds behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 28 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish. Only six cars were on the lead lap at the end of the event, while only 11 cars completed 398 or more laps.
Stewart is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and came into the third race of the 10-race Chase in fourth place among the 12 Chase drivers, 10 points behind Chase leader Johnson. Stewart leaves Dover fifth in the standings, 32 points behind new Chase leader Keselowski.
Newman fell one spot to 15th in the standings with 830 points, 40 back of 13th-place Busch.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fourth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 on Oct. 7 at Talladega Superspeedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.