Late stop ruins Newman's Chase bid
As losses go, they don’t come any harder than the one suffered by Ryan Newman Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
A lame-duck driver at Stewart-Haas Racing, Newman passed Carl Edwards on Lap 391 to lead the Federated Auto Parts 400 at RIR, apparently headed for a race victory and a wild-card spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But when Clint Bowyer spun to bring out a caution on Lap 394, the entire field headed down pit road for fresh rubber.
Newman came down pit road leading and came out fifth following a disastrous pit stop.
Edwards came off pit road second, the first car with four fresh tires, and captured the race over Kurt Busch and Newman. Busch, of course, will join SHR next season, with Newman expected to move to Richard Childress Racing.
When the checkered flag fell, Newman and Martin Truex Jr. were tied for the second wild-card position with one race victory each and the same number of points. But Truex won the tiebreaker because he had a second-place finish during the year, which Newman didn’t. It wasn’t just a crushing way to lose; it was two crushing ways to lose — losing the race on pit road and losing a Chase slot on the tiebreaker.
Newman minced no words about the bad final pit stop.
“We came down pit road first,” Newman said. “Carl came off pit road second. We should have been at least second at that point. We didn't do our job on pit road. Four tires won the race. We were the first car to be in position on four tires and we didn't get the job done.”
It was a crushing ending to what up to then had been a great race.
“We did everything we needed to up until the last caution,” said Newman. “I'm not sure exactly what unfolded there. We still had the opportunity to win it on pit road and we didn't. Coming from (fifth) to third in a couple laps is not bad. But we had to win, so it's disappointing.”
Like every driver who missed the Chase, Newman knew there were plenty of missed opportunities along the way.
“Didn't expect to make up for everything we didn't get in the first 25 (races) in the last race, but we were in position,” said Newman. “We did everything we needed to with the exception of the pit stop. … Obviously, we were in a position to take that second wild card with two wins. Nevertheless, I still feel like we lost it on pit road. It's disappointing. We'll go on.”