|Photo, courtesy of Jerry Conner|
The finish was in the hands of the drivers, which was all too evidenced by my fave, Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 Wix Chevrolet. Newman had a hard day at the beginning with a fast car but some handling issues. He overcame a speeding penalty on pit road as well as a boneheaded mistake when his pit crew that not only negated the chassis changes he needed, but they turned the track bar the wrong way, worsening the handling. Newman and his team persevered though, turning it around with a tenth-place finish. Not only that, his crew chief Matt Borland won the season's first MOOG Problem Solver of the Race award. The award is sponsored by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation.
According to Market Watch in the Wall Street Journal, "the award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest improvement in average lap time during the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Newman and the 39 Chevrolet topped the field with a 0.354-second improvement over the final 100 laps to finish 10th at Fontana."
Congratulations to Ryan Newman and Matt Borland, his crew chief. The two were reunited at the end of last season. Newman, with Borland on the pit box won 12 races together at Penske Racing between 2002 and 2005.
Since coming together at Stewart-Haas Racing, the duo has earned three top-10s in five starts - including a fifth-place finish in this year's Daytona 500. They have much to overcome however, since the races at Phoenix and Las Vegas ended with DNF's due to tire issues and an engine failure.
Newman now stands in 20th position, up three spots and on the rise.