Ryan Newman Ends 127-Race Winless Streak In Phoenix

by March 19, 2017 0 comments

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Ryan Newman ended a 127-race winless streak on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway after winning the Camping World 500.

The last time that Newman won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in August of 2013. On Sunday, Newman started 22nd in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet, and only led the final six laps en route to his 18th career win. Newman’s victory also ended a 112-race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing.

“I’ve lost count; that’s how long it’s been,” Newman said. “I’ve got to thank Grainger, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Monster Energy, for supporting our series, and Chevrolet. The list goes on and on. What a gutsy call by (crew chief) Luke (Lambert). I called for two tires and he called for none. I’ve won more races no tires than I have with four. I’m just proud of these guys. We had a good car all day. We kept it out of trouble and collected in the end.”

The caution that set the field up for a NASCAR Overtime finish occurred when Joey Logano blew a right front tire and brought out the eighth and final caution on lap 308, just four laps from the scheduled finish. On the final restart of the afternoon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. didn’t get going, and the stumble opened the door for Kyle Larson to pull up behind Newman heading into Turn 1; however, after Larson and Stenhouse Jr. made contact, they lost significant ground to Newman.

“Yeah, my spotter said ‘clear’ and I started turning down,” Larson said. “I guess I just didn’t anticipate him (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) driving in as far as he did. Maybe I should have just run the middle lane there just to be safe.”

While the field battled behind him, Newman cruised to Victory Lane, earning only his second win at Phoenix International Raceway.

Larson held on for a runner-up finish. The driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet now leads the point standings by a mere six points over Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski.

“This one stings because I feel like I was in the best spot out of anybody there to line up fourth on two tires,” Larson said. “But, it’s really, really cool to be the point leader right now. That was a goal of mine going into today. So, thanks to everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing for all your hard work. We’ll hopefully continue to have this speed in our race cars and maybe close some of these races out.”

Kyle Busch led a race high of 114 laps, but the driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry had to settle for a third-place finish. Even though Busch had a dominate car throughout the afternoon, he couldn’t be too disappointed because the finish marks his best effort of the 2017 season. In fact, the finish his first top-10 of the year.

“It was awesome there at the end and the guys made some really good calls there at the end – Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a good job being able to make some good adjustments and make it feel better once we got out front,” Busch said. “Thanks to my pit crew – the car really liked clean air. We just got caught up in traffic a little bit early in the race, but we were mindful of that and just kind of bided our time and got up to the front when we did, but we had a little miscue there on pit road with Kurt (Busch) and from there it was just too many cars that stayed out. If it was just two that stayed out maybe, but we really needed the outside like (Kyle) Larson had. Overall we should be proud of our run today and we will move on.”

Stenhouse Jr. held on for a fourth-place finish, his best effort of the year. Keselowski finished fifth, while Kevin Harvick and Daniel Suarez finished sixth and seventh respectively. Suarez’s impressive run on Sunday marked his first-career top-10 in the series. The Monterrey, Mexico native competed in only his fourth series event on Sunday.

“It’s a big deal because in the last two races we have struggled,” Suarez said. “We didn’t have the speed and the communication wasn’t great, but we’ve been working very hard trying to work on chemistry, communication and for sure we’ve been getting better. Yesterday in the last practice, in the happy hour, I felt very good about the car. I feel like we were going to have a shot to have some fun in the race and I wasn’t wrong. The team did a very good job.”

Erik Jones was another driver, who scored his first top-10 in the series as well. Jones finished eighth in only his seventh-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

“It’s a good day,” Jones said. “Your expectations kind of change as the day goes on. When you feel like you have a fifth place car, you want to run fifth, but it just didn’t work out at the end. We had a lot of guys take two (tires). A lot more than I thought would. A lot more obviously than Chris (Gayle, crew chief) thought would. We had a great restart and were able to get back up to eighth. Not too much gain, not too much loss. A solid day for us.”

Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-10.

Throughout the Camping World 500 on Sunday, there were 15 lead changes among eight drivers. The race also saw eight cautions for 45 laps. Two of the cautions signaled the end of Stages 1 and 2, and there were only two cautions that involved multiple cars. The remaining four cautions were for single-car accidents.

The final race in this year’s West Coast Swing will be held at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 26. Live broadcast of the Auto Club 400 will be found on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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