Phoenix International Raceway
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Newman Battles Through the Field to Finish 5th in Phoenix
by David Ferroni, U.S. Army Racing
PHOENIX -- Ryan Newman came from the rear of the field to claim a fifth-place finish in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500k Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Newman, whose No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet was carrying more than 350 faces of Vietnam Soldiers as a Veteran Day tribute, started the 312-lap race from the 30th position. He muscled his way through the field to post his ninth top-five finish of the season and his 17th top-10.
Newman's Soldier-like true-grit performance lifted him three spots in the point standings from 12th to ninth. He is actually tied for eighth with Kurt Busch, but Busch beats him on the tiebreaker for most wins.
Newman's teammate, Tony Stewart, finished third and heads into next week's final race three points behind Chase leader Carl Edwards.
Despite a poor starting position on a tricky, newly-paved track surface, Newman's savvy driving skills came into play as he managed to aggressively gain track position without any incidents on the 1-mile oval.
"Our goal was to give our Army Strong Vietnam Veterans the recognition that they deserve and I hope we made them proud with our come-from-behind performance today," said Newman. "I want to personally thank everyone of those Vietnam Veterans on our car for the inspiration they provided our U.S. Army team this weekend. I was born after the conflict in Southeast Asia ended, but history tells us the adversity these Soldiers went through in the fight for democracy was nothing but heroic."
NASCAR's post-race lap summary chart tracked Newman's steady progression. After starting 30th, he was running in 25th place on Lap 45, 15th on Lap 105, eighth on Lap 180 and fifth on Lap 240.
“That was an amazing comeback for us to come from 30th to fifth," stated Newman. "I’m really proud of that. We had a good day on pit road and to come back from where we started to end up talking to you (media) is a good day. This is what our brave Soldiers do every day -- they never quit and keep on fighting until the mission is completed.”
The race winner was Kasey Kahne. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Edwards, Stewart, Jeff Burton and Newman.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale is slated for Sunday (Nov. 20) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.