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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stewart-Haas Racing marked by opposites and irony Sunday at Louden

Tony Stewart, NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Sp...Image via WikipediaDuring NASCAR’s second Championship race at Louden, New Hampshire, Stewart-Haas Racing drivers were both victorious and defeated, all at the same time.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 car won the race, his second consecutive win during the Chase for the Championship. Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 who started in the pole position, finished a lap down, in 25th place.

Ironically, Stewart passed leader Clint Bowyer, driver of the #33 car, on the last lap when Bowyer ran out of gas. Last year, the roles were reversed.It was Stewart who ran out of gas and watched Bowyer cross the finish line first.

Stewart now holds the top spot in points in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship. Newman lost four spots in the standings, dropping from 7th to 11th in points. Ouch! It was a devastating day for Newman.

Newman had the best qualifying lap, so he started on the pole. He had great expectations, since he was the most recent Sprint Cup driver to win at Louden, winning the regular season race there in July when he also started from the pole. It is one of his favorite tracks and he always runs well there. And his performance of late has been superb.

It wasn’t meant to be this weekend, however, as it really is all about team work. And the #39 team didn’t deliver.

The first issue was a fluke—when during a pit stop Newman’s air hose got caught up on his splitter, costing precious time to clear it. Then there were other blunders on pit road, such as an issue with a lug nut and a bad call that resulted in his crew chief Tony Gibson’s numerous apologies over the radio. 

Finally, with five laps to go, Newman had to pit to change tires as he felt a problem with his right front tire. It was a devastating day for the #39 team.

As a fan, the whole race was hard to watch, especially since Newman’s car was featured on ESPN’s Race Buddy. A camera was mounted inside his race car, allowing us to feel as though we were riding along with our favorite driver at breakneck speeds. The experience was quite enjoyable during the first 62 laps, while Newman was leading the race.

We look forward to a turn around at Dover next weekend.

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