By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
The highlight of the day for Ryan Newman was a pit strategy call as he flew under the radar at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The South Point 400 was nearly identical to the Spring race at Las Vegas. With just two natural cautions, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Grid drivers had little chance move up the running order. Newman’s No. 6 Oscar Meyer Bacon Ford Mustang did so with some pit strategy.
At the end of the second stage, Newman’s Scott Graves-led Roush Fenway Racing team jumped up 13 positions on the running order. A two-tire pit stop put the No. 6 third on the running order. Although Newman quickly slipped backward, he stabilized just outside the top-10. On the final lap, he passed Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon to finish 10th.
The race was dominated by Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and eventual race winner Martin Truex, Jr. Newman was mired in the middle of the pack for much of the race.
Newman explained that the race was all about handling and track position.
“We needed track position but most importantly we needed to get our Oscar Meyer Ford Mustang tightened up and we finally did toward the last run. We still finished loose, but we fought really hard with being loose all day long and this is not a good place to be loose. It is a challenge. I am surprised we were as loose as we were, but we had a good car and made some decent points but not the day that we wanted to have.”
After the events of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Newman is 13th on the Playoff Grid, six-points behind the cutoff, held by Aric Almirola. He is 55-points behind points leader Truex.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, Harvick’s odds are better than most. Among active drivers, he has the sixth best average finish, 12.54 in 35 career starts at the 0.75-mile short track.
In his career, the veteran driver has led 483 laps in 35 starts at the Richmond, VA track. Newman also has one victory, seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes, along with one pole position.
Newman is 14th among active drivers in the five most recent races at the track. Logano has the best average finish, 4.20. Newman’s driver rating at Dover is 81.1.
Now Harvick, Graves, and the entire No. 6 team will look to improve on their consistency this season as they attempt to achieve victory in the Richmond Playoff race and secure a spot in the Round of 12.