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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Not quite Top 10

When Ryan Newman doesn't finish a race in the top 10, it takes me a few days to recover enough to write about it. That was the case with Saturday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Newman finished in 14th place--not far from the top 10--but not quite in it either. Considering the night he had, 14th was a great finish. It was a hot and windy night, which didn't help the lack of grip and mostly tight conditions that led to Newman's unhappy relationship with his race car for the 500-mile race.

Newman and the #39 team struggled to improve the car's balance, probably exacerbated by weather conditions, a mediocre starting spot, and daytime practice for a nighttime race. The team couldn't quite reach the right balance needed to maximize speed, though it isn't because they didn't try. Adjustments were made on the car at every pit stop. Newman said on the radio that it felt like the wheels were traveling in different directions. 

Newman wheeled the car the best he could, bringing praise from Crew Chief Tony Gibson. Following the race, Gibson recognized that Newman got "everything and more" out of the unyielding race car.

Newman's disappointment had to be magnified by the knowledge that his team has made major improvements to its intermediate track program in other recent weeks. Newman fell one point in the standings to seventh in points. He is 233 points out of first place.

Carl Edwards sits precariously in first place just nine points ahead of Kyle Busch. Edwards finished third, which is great considering he was feeling ill. He mentioned after the race that he didn't want to throw his mother under the bus but she cooked something for dinner that didn't agree with him. Ouch! I hope Mom isn't too hard on him for that remark on national TV.

The only other noteworthy event in this week's race were the uncharacteristic mistakes by Tony Stewart. Stewart was caught speeding on pit road. Serving the drive through penalty took him out of contention for what could have been a win. Then on the last lap, he ran out of fuel, causing him to finish a disappointing twelfth. He had been running third.

Overall the race was seemed long and pretty unexciting to watch. 

That is not the case however for Matt Kenseth fans. For them, this must have been nirvana. Kenseth led most of the laps and cruised his way to victory with ease.