Stewart-Haas Racing Pocono Review—Good Cars That Just Didn’t Last

The news from Pocono Raceway was both good and bad for the Stewart-Haas Racing teams—they had cars that ran at the front, but they broke before the checkered flag flew. On Sunday both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman lost third gear in their race cars leaving the teammates near the bottom of the chase field at the end of the day.

The week leading up to the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway was filled with more media attention than usual for the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers—some good, some bad and some just reflecting change.  By Sunday both drivers were just focused on navigating the Pennsylvania raceway.

Monday of Pocono week started when a team spokesman for SHR announced that it had released Bobby Hutchens, who has served as the team’s director of competition since 2009.   Wednesday, Stewart played host to drivers from several series at his Prelude to the Dream charity dirt race.  Friday Newman faced media questions about a possible secret fine by NASCAR.  

Newman discusses "secret fines" with the media - Karel Zubris for Skirts and Scuffs
That Ryan Newman finished ninth after losing third gear on lap 179 of the 200-lap race might have been the biggest news of the week for SHR.  Tony Gibson, crew chief for Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet, commented after the race that they were lucky to get the finish they did.

“With 21 laps to go, we lost third gear in the transmission,” said Gibson. “And we thought we were going to be OK, but the transmission started running hot and started pumping fluid out. We didn’t know it at the time. It smoked a little bit in the corners, but then it cleared up and went away and we ran the last 15 laps with no smoke.”

“I think what happened was it just kind of dumped all the fluid out of the transmission,” Gibson continued. “It just got hot and started pumping it out. So, we were just very, very lucky today to finish this race. For once, a break went our way. We didn’t need a green-white-checkered and we needed to finish with a broken transmission. We’ll take it and go on.”

Stewart was not as lucky as Newman when his mechanical problems began much earlier.  Like Newman, however, he had been running near the front and was poised for a good finish. Stewart started 15th but finally broke into the top-five for the first time on lap 124.  Two laps later, he radioed his team that he had lost third gear.

Tony Stewart prepares to qualify at Pocono - Karel Zubris for Skirts and Scuffs
“We had a good car,” said Stewart, who has victories at Pocono in June 2003 and June 2009. “As soon as we cracked the top-five, we lost third gear. At some point things have to start going our way. It’s just one of those things.”

Stewart and Newman are ninth and 10, respectively, in the championship point standings. Stewart dropped one spot while Newman maintained his 10th-place standing. Each driver has 417 points, 75 behind series leader Carl Edwards. While technically tied, Stewart is ahead of Newman via the tiebreaker of best finishes this season.
Stewart-Haas Racing Pocono Review—Good Cars That Just Didn’t Last Stewart-Haas Racing Pocono Review—Good Cars That Just Didn’t Last Reviewed by Rosalie Thompson on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 Rating: 5