Date: Nov. 17, 2013
Event: Ford EcoBoost 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 15th/17th (Running, completed 267 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (2,286 points, 133 out of first)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Champion: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 17th in the Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The race marked Newman’s last as a member of SHR, as he moves to Richard Childress Racing in 2014. Newman scored eight poles and four wins, including the 20th running of the Brickyard 400 in August 2013, during his five-year tenure at SHR.
The Quicken Loans team made adjustments all race long but was unable to dial the handling of its red-and-white machine to Newman’s liking.
After starting 15th, an ill-handling racecar dropped Newman to 20th in the early going of the 267-lap race. Despite making many adjustments throughout the course of the event, crew chief Matt Borland was unable to come up with the combination needed to correct a handling condition that saw Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet tight entering and in the center of the corners but loose on the exit.
Borland seemed to hit on a solid setup after a pit stop on lap 190 as the No. 39 climbed from the 21st position to 13th in just 10 laps. Newman continued to make forward progress, running as high as eighth on lap 219, before the handling characteristics changed once again, resulting in a loss of several positions over the closing laps of the race. Despite his best efforts, Newman was not able to overcome the ill handling that plagued his car for much of the race.
“That certainly wasn’t the way that we wanted to end the 2013 season,” Newman said. “We struggled with our Quicken Loans Chevrolet all weekend. We never could really get it where I needed it to be. I’ve got to thank Matt Borland (crew chief) and everyone on this No. 39 team for their hard work tonight and all season. We won the Brickyard 400, we made the Chase, I think we had top-10 finishes in half the races. We certainly can’t hang our heads about that. But as racers, you always want more. So I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish, but I certainly hoped we would be able to end the year on a higher note than we did.
“I’ve got to thank everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for everything over the last five years. We didn’t reach all of the goals that we set out to, but we did accomplish a lot together. I’ve got to thank Quicken Loans, Outback Steakhouse, WIX Filters, Aspen Dental, Code 3 Associates, Haas Automation, State Water Heaters and all of the partners that supported me over the last five years.”
Newman’s teammate Mark Martin, interim driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he subbed for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 19th. The race was Martin’s 882nd career Sprint Cup start and his last scheduled Sprint Cup start in a career dating back to April 5, 1981, when he made his Sprint Cup debut at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. Martin ends his NASCAR career with 1,144 starts across all NASCAR series, with 40 Sprint Cup wins, 49 Nationwide Series wins and seven Camping World Truck Series wins.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th. It was Patrick’s 46th career Sprint Cup start and her first at Homestead. Patrick, who competed for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished two spots in the race ahead of Stenhouse, who placed 22nd.
Denny Hamlin won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 23rd career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at Homestead.
Matt Kenseth finished .799 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 37 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.
Newman represented SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and came into the final race of the 10-race Chase in 11th place among the 13 Chase drivers. He ended the season 11th in the standings.
Patrick finished the year 27th in the standings with 646 points. She finished runner-up to Stenhouse in the 2013 Rookie of the Year title.
Stewart, who was sidelined midway through the season with a broken right leg suffered in a sprint car crash Aug. 5, finished 29th with 594 points.
The final Chase standings for the 2013 season:
1. Jimmie Johnson (2,419 points) +/-0 position
2. Matt Kenseth (2,400 points, -19) +/-0
3. Kevin Harvick (2,385 points, -34) +/-0
4. Kyle Busch (2,364 points, -55) +/-0
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2,363 points, -56) +/-0
6. Jeff Gordon (2,337 points, -82) +/-0
7. Clint Bowyer (2,336 points, -83) +1
8. Joey Logano (2,323 points, -96) +1
9. Greg Biffle (2,321 points, -98) -2
10. Kurt Busch (2,309 points, -110) +/-0
11. Ryan Newman (2,286 points, -133) +/-0
12. Kasey Kahne (2,283 points, -136) +/-0
13. Carl Edwards (2,282 points, -137) +/-0
This was the sixth Sprint Cup title for Johnson, one shy of the record of seven Sprint Cup championships earned by NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
The 2014 Sprint Cup season kicks off Feb. 14-23 with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 56th Daytona 500, the first point-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 23 and will be broadcast live on FOX.