Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stewart-Haas Racing Atlanta Review—Stewart 3rd, Newman in Chase

Ryan Newman has a spot in the 2011 Chase
Photo by Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Tuesday’s rain-delayed AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway produced good storylines for each Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver.  Ryan Newman secured his spot in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase and Tony Stewart finished third behind Jeff Gordon who fought off his own teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Newman entered the Atlanta race needing only a 20th-place finish to secure a Chase spot and he got exactly what he needed.  Although he was not pleased with the race results, Newman was happy that the No. 39 U.S. Army team secured a Chase spot with one race to go before the final field is set. 
Newman continues to lead the SHR duo in the championship point standings but fell one spot to eighth, 58 points ahead of 11th-place Brad Keselowski. Stewart remained 10th and with a 23-point cushion over Keselowski.  With one win to his credit, Newman will start the Chase with at least three bonus points.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala, finished third for his 15th top-10 finish in 25 Sprint Cup starts at the 1.54-mile oval and his 10th top-10 finish this season.  Stewart had two slow pit stops which put him back in the field and left him struggling to get his fast car back up front and into clean air.
Stewart said in a post-race press conference that the Chase race may come down to one point Saturday at Richmond and having the strong finish at Atlanta was good for his team. 
Stewart was not only pleased with his finish, but pleased that Newman had already put the No. 39 team into the Chase. Both SHR teams made the Chase field in 2009, the first year the team was in existence.  Newman, however, narrowly missed the Chase last year.
“Really happy,” Stewart said of his day. “I will say this: If Ed Clark decides to repave this racetrack, I'll personally shoot him myself.
This place is so racy, so much fun. Like Jimmie (Johnson) said, you could -- here more so than anywhere we go to, you actually have to take care of your tires and budget them for your run. And that's what makes it fun here because guys overdrive run their cars, run too hard on the front and then they fall off the last half.
But, man, we had an awesome car at the end, especially, gaining eight and a half seconds on the leader there was definitely an awesome run. And we had a lot of guys we got back in those last ten laps.
So helped us out going into next week, obviously. And like Jimmie said, just I'm really proud of everybody at Stewart Haas Racing for their dedication. They keep persevering and pushing it to make it better each week. It's been a tough last couple of months. But I appreciate everybody in our shop, the road crews. And Ryan making The Chase, getting locked in today, and just all of our partners and sponsors.
And like Jimmie said, we are really glad to have three Hendrick cars in the top three in engine. So really appreciative of that.”
With Newman safely in the Chase and Danica Patrick securely signed for next year, Stewart should be able to concentrate on the one unfinished task for the Stewart-Haas Racing organization at this point in the season--putting the No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet in the 2011 Chase field.

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