Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), persevered over the course of the twice rain-delayed Geico 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., to record a 10th-place finish.
Newman started 20th in the 43-car field and worked his way toward the front of the field, leading once for one lap, to record his 13th top-10 finish of the 2013 season.
“I’m happy to come out of here with a top-10 finish tonight,” Newman said. “Track position was really important. We were stuck in the back of the pack for a while and couldn’t really get going. Every time I got up behind someone, I’d just get so tight I couldn’t do anything with it. Matt (Borland, crew chief) got us position with a couple of two-tire stops, and once we were up front, we were able to make a little more of it. Our Quicken Loans Chevrolet was definitely better on the long runs. Head to Outback Steakhouse for a Bloomin’ Onion tomorrow. And we paid 10 mortgages with Quicken Loans’ expanded ‘Bring it Home’ sweepstakes.”
Newman battled a tight-handling condition throughout much of the first 108 laps of the race. Then heavy rain began to fall, and NASCAR was forced to display the red flag for five hours, 10 minutes. When green-flag racing resumed, Newman’s handling conditions went the opposite direction as he struggled with being loose off the exit of corners.
“Matt and the guys were able to discuss strategy with the break we had, and they made some good adjustments once we went back racing,” Newman said. “We wound up being a little too loose on exit. I’m glad we were able to get the whole race in today. And I’ve got to thank the fans that stuck it out to see the finish.”
Newman’s SHR teammate Mark Martin, interim driver of SHR’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 17th. It was his third top-20 finish in the last four races.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th. It was Patrick’s 37th career Sprint Cup start and her second at Chicagoland. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 12 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed eighth.
Matt Kenseth won the Geico 400 to score his 30th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-best sixth of the season and his first at Chicagoland.
Kyle Busch finished .749 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Stenhouse, Clint Bowyer and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 46 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race. The event was delayed twice due to rain for a total of six hours, 30 minutes. Mist forced nearly a 90-minute delay of the start, while heavier rain forced the race to be halted for five hours, 10 minutes after 108 laps were complete.
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup and entered the first race of the 10-race Chase seeded 12th among the 13 Chase drivers, 15 points behind No. 1 seed Kenseth. Newman leaves Chicagoland in eighth, 28 points behind Chase leader Kenseth.
With nine races remaining before a champion is crowned after the season finale Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the top-13 drivers competing for the title rank as follows:
1. Matt Kenseth (2,063 points) +/-0 positions
2. Kyle Busch (2,055 points, -8) +1
3. Jimmie Johnson (2,052 points, -11) -1
4. Kevin Harvick (2,048 points -15) +/-0
5. Carl Edwards (2,040 points, -23) +/-0
6. Kurt Busch (2,040 points, -23) +4
7. Jeff Gordon (2,039 points, -24) +6
8. Ryan Newman (2,035 points, -28) +4
9. Clint Bowyer (2,035 points, -28) -1
10. Kasey Kahne (2,032 points, -31) +1
11. Greg Biffle (2,032 points, -31) -4
12. Joey Logano (2,011 points, -52) -6
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2,010 points, -53) -4
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the second race of the 10-race Chase – is the Sylvania 300 on Sept. 22 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.