Monday, October 29, 2012

Smoke Signals: Newman, Borland Reunite at Martinsville

Stewart-Haas Racing owner/driver Tony Stewart qualified the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala seventh for the TUMS Fast Relief 500, following a fast lap at 97.257 mph (19.470 seconds). His teammate Ryan Newman, working with “new” crew chief Matt Borland, qualified 17th in the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet with a speed of 96.835 mph (19.555 seconds). Borland, who served as Newman’s crew chief at Penske Racing from 2002 to 2006, takes over for Tony Gibson, who will be serving as Danica Patrick’s Sprint Cup Series crew chief for her final two races of 2012 and onward.

Stewart had a rough day at best at Martinsville, fighting an ill-handling car throughout the race as no adjustments could give him what he needed to get around the track. Stewart finished 27th, two laps down to the leaders.

“No matter what we did to the car – and we made a lot of adjustments – it didn’t do anything to make it better,” said Stewart on the SHR website.

Credit: Katy Lindamood/Skirts and Scuffs
Newman’s star shone brighter than his boss’ did at Martinsville, as the new tag team of Newman and Borland rallied from two laps down to finish 11th. He also battled tight conditions on the 0.526-mile short track early on, and as with Stewart’s team, no changes seemed to help. Borland called for major changes on a green-flag pit stop on Lap 375, which brought Newman back on track in 28th place, two laps down. The team fought back and took advantage of two wave-arounds on late race cautions to get back on the lead lap; Newman gained seven spots in the final 19 laps on his way to his 20th top 15 finish of the season.

“It was a good rebound by our Quicken Loans team,” said Newman after the race on the website. “Our car was entirely too tight, and it wasn’t working from about the second run of the race on. We made wedge and track bar changes, and it didn’t help. We made air-pressure changes, and it didn’t change anything. Nothing was working, but we kept taking big swings at it, and we kept trying to fix it. We got two laps down, but we were able to use the wave-around to our advantage and get back on the lead lap and drive up to 11th there at the end. It would have been nice to have gotten a top-10 in my first race back with Borland, but I’m proud of what we did as a team today. It’s a good start for us.”

Stewart’s rough day cost him spots and points in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, falling from seventh to 10th in the standings; Stewart is now 71 points behind new points leader and Martinsville race winner Jimmie Johnson. Newman remains 15th in points, 70 points back of Kyle Busch.

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