Stewart-Haas Racing Talladega Review — if only the race had ended a few laps sooner!

Newman and Stewart at Talladega  Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

If the April 17 Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway had ended a few laps sooner, both Stewart-Haas Racing drivers might have been in position to contend for the win. Instead Tony Stewart finished 17th after losing his drafting partner and Ryan Newman came home 25th after two incredible saves.

Stewart paired up with David Gilliland, who had also been his drafting partner at the Daytona 500, for most of the day. With only four laps to go, however, Gilliland let off the gas to avoid the spinning car of Dave Blaney and the two lost momentum.

Kurt Busch then teamed up with Stewart but quickly left him for another car and Stewart, who had started 30th, finished the race in the 17th spot and dropped to 12th in the Sprint Cup points.

“This thing is a crapshoot,” said Stewart after the race. “You try to do your best and think ahead and put yourself in the right position to do what you think you need to do, and it still doesn’t work. But I think what we were trying to do was right, and I had the right guy pushing me. David (Gilliland) was a workhorse. He could push me all day, it seemed. And when he did, it was solid. We never really had any dramas. Obviously, we were hoping for a better result, but David finished ninth and I’m happy for him. He sure earned it.”

Newman, who has a history of bad luck at superspeedways since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, was running with Denny Hamlin and the two had been strong all day. With 20 laps to go, they made their move toward the front.

With 17 laps to go, Newman’s No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet got loose. He was nearly sideways before making an incredible save but two laps later he got sideways again and looped around, coming to rest on the apron. After pit stops, Newman restarted 27th but did not have his drafting partner and finished in the 25th spot.

“If there was a category for ‘saves of the day,’ I think we’d be the only one that had two,” Newman said after the race. “But it’s just disappointing, obviously, because we had a good car. The No. 11 (Hamlin) and I were just biding our time and we decided to go and I got loose and it’s just the way it works. I just got loose underneath the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer), and whoever hit me (Juan Pablo Montoya) straightened me out. That helped, but it knocked the fender into the tire and that ended up shortening up our day. I’m proud of the guys to come back from the things we went through there, but I wish we could have been better.”

Newman, who led three times for six laps, remains in the seventh spot in the points standings as the Sprint Cup drivers take next weekend off before heading to Richmond on April 30.
Stewart-Haas Racing Talladega Review — if only the race had ended a few laps sooner! Stewart-Haas Racing Talladega Review — if only the race had ended a few laps sooner! Reviewed by Rosalie Thompson on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 Rating: 5