Monday, July 18, 2011

Stewart-Haas 1-2 at New Hampshire

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Starting from the pole, Ryan Newman piloted the US Army #39 car to victory at the SPRINT Cup race at Loudon on Sunday. To make a good day even better, team-mate and boss Tony Stewart finished in second place. “It’s no secret we’ve been struggling this year, but it really shows me the depth we’ve got in our organization,” Stewart said. “It’s been one of the weirdest years as far as bad things happening. Our guys at the shop keep plugging away. It shows the character of what Stewart-Haas Racing is about.”

Despite a wreck on lap 171 due to contact with AJ Almendinger, Denny Hamlin was able to claw his way to third place.

Kyle Busch had a bad day at the track. On lap 41, he tangled with Jimmie Johnson and had to go to the pits twice to repair the damage, putting him 2-laps down. Then on lap 61, following a slight tap from Dale Earnhardt Jr, Busch’s tire blew, causing him to lose control and slam into the wall. Busch was able to finish after spending 76 laps in the garage. Turns out that the tap by Earnhardt was not the cause of the wreck. Instead, Goodyear attributed the blowout to bead meltdown due to heat buildup in the tire. Busch commented, “Blew a bead,” Busch said. “Fastest car here” he continued, “getting through the field pretty good and kind of the only guy passing ... We made some big changes there on that (previous) pit stop. We came back and got four (tires) just to make sure that we got all the changes we wanted to.” Then “just blew a bead I guess. Transferring too much brake heat through the wheel. Couldn’t tell you anything else besides that. Kind of knew things weren’t going to go our way today. This morning, woke up and everything went wrong that could go wrong . . . ”

Busch was not the only driver to experience tire problems. On lap 185, Mark Martin spun when his left rear tire failed. Brad Keselowski also suffered bead meltdown, eliminating him from the race.

Jeff Gordon had a great car and ran in the top-ten the whole race, leading for several laps. With two laps to go, Gordon was running 4th and within striking distance of the leaders. He had a good car and it looked as if the comeback kid might do it. While leading the race earlier, Gordon noted his gauges were acting strange. Then a massive failed alternator sidelined the former champ. They tried replacing the battery, but it was no use. "So we knew that we were losing the power to the engine from an alternator standpoint, a battery standpoint. We had one battery in there that has an automatic shutoff when it gets to a certain volt, and it shut off on us. So that's why we had to come in and change the battery. Gordon continued, "when I switched over to the other battery, yeah, everything was lighting up and flashing and going crazy.” The ever-optimistic Gordon praised his team, "From a performance standpoint I think we showed everybody what we're capable of doing; and for that I'm very excited," Gordon said. "I know the guys feel really bad about the issues that we had, but it was a great lesson for us to go through this and understand how to deal with it and how we reacted to it.”

These mishaps cost Kyle Busch the points lead in the race to the championship dropping him 4 spots to 5th. Moving to first is Carl Edwards, followed by Jimmie Johnson then Kurt Bush. Tony Stewart is tied for 10th place with Hamlin, but is not included in The Chase as Hamlin has a win and 4 top five finishes, verses Stewart with no wins and only 2 top five finishes.

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