Qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway for the AdvoCare 500 saw Stewart-Haas Racing regulars Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman both earn top 12 starting spots. Stewart qualified the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala ninth for the race with a speed of 136.867 mph (26.303 seconds), while Newman qualified the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet 12th following a qualifying lap of 136.721 mph (26.331 seconds). Danica Patrick, driving the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in conjunction with Tommy Baldwin Racing, qualified 37th for the race at a speed of 132.954 mph (27.077 seconds).
Stewart spent much of the race in the top 15 before spinning on Lap 282 and sustaining damage to the left-front of his Chevy. The crew was able to repair the damage and get Stewart back on track just one lap down. He went on to finish 19th.
Newman and Patrick both had better finishes than the boss, but limped home with torn-up race cars. Newman and his new crew chief Matt Borland were once again able to earn a great finish under problematic conditions – namely that Newman crossed the finish line backwards. He fought handling issues early in the race, racing mid-pack until Borland’s call to stay out during the caution on Lap 166 put him in the top three for nearly 40 laps before having to pit.
Pit stop strategy and adjustments put Newman back in the top 10 with less than 20 laps to go, with Newman ultimately finishing fifth. That he was able to finish was another matter.
|Paul Menard goes underneath Danica Patrick's No. 10|
credit: Getty Images for NASCAR/Jonathan Ferrey
“Another great day,” Gibson said on the SHR website. “Everybody did a really good job today. She raced hard. She had some great runs today. She raced herself to the ‘lucky dog’ there and got a lap back. Then she was solid, man. She had a top-10, top-12 car all day long. She deserved to finish 12th, at least. But she got wrecked by (Jeff) Burton. But it’s our best finish. 17th. We’ll take that. But we know we were better than that.”
Newman was one of many drivers involved in the last incident to voice his opinion. “Well, my race car is junk,” said Newman on the SHR website. “That was a good run for our Quicken Loans/U.S. Army Chevrolet. Matt made some good calls today, and the crew did a good job. We got off on our pit strategy there for a bit, but we didn’t give up on each other and we kept fighting and making the car better. I’m just really disappointed in the way NASCAR handled that last lap there. That was not fair to the drivers at all. I took a hard hit. So did some others, and I’m just glad everyone’s OK.”
Stewart’s 19th-place finish dropped him back to ninth in points, with all drivers except the top two, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, eliminated from contention in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Newman sits 14th in points, 82 points back of Kyle Busch.