Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway was a game of survival, and Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet nearly came out on top. Bringing the car home in one piece, Newman led the field to the white flag and finished second, earning his best-career finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
In a race that featured 11 cautions, three lengthy red flags and the majority of the field involved in at least one incident, Newman was able to survive the day and emerge at the end when it mattered most.
“That was about the only time I did race was the final few (laps) there, but a good run for the Caterpillar Chevrolet to get second,” said Newman. “Wish we could have pulled it off. It’s one of those deals where you stay out front and the caution comes out after you take the white, you look like a hero, but you start backing up to the guys behind you, and next thing you know you’ve got passed and then the caution comes out, so I kept my foot in it and did what I thought was right.”
Leading the final lap, Newman fell back to second when teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano pushed ahead. Newman battled hard to the checkered flag and finished in the runner-up position, his best at Talladega.
“I basically got double‑teamed and the 2 (Keselowski) and the 22 (Logano) got a good run past me. The 11 (Denny Hamlin) did a great job of getting me going at the start there; kind of reminded me of the old tandem days of drafting. Just not the end result that we wanted but a good performance.”
Someone had to finish second. @RyanJNewman was that guy.
He spoke with our Dave Burns after the race. pic.twitter.com/aKrXLbCmW8
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 16, 2017
After a wild afternoon around one of NASCAR’s most treacherous tracks, only 14 cars were running at the finish of Sunday’s race at Talladega. Joining Newman among those 14 was teammate Paul Menard in the No. 27 Knauf/Menards Chevrolet. Coming off a third-place finish in the last superspeedway race at Daytona International Speedway in July, Menard fought through a number of issues to finish the day in the 12th position.
“We fired off with good speed in this Knauf/Menards Chevrolet, so much so that I told my crew chief, Matt Borland, to leave it alone during the first round of pit stops. I cut a tire after running over something and I ended up getting into the outside wall,” said Menard. “Luckily, we didn’t end up with much damage, but we spent most of Stage 2 feeling the car out and working to make it competitive again.
“We made our way into the top-10 with about 25 to go, and then something broke in the gears,” he said. “Without all four gears, we had to somewhat limp home to that 12th-place finish. I appreciate the hard work from this whole team. We definitely had the speed to contend today.”
Unfortunately for Austin Dillon, the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet was in the middle of the pack with the ‘Big One’ struck on Lap 173. Dillon showed speed throughout the day but had nowhere to go when the field began to wreck ahead of him going into Turn 3.
“We ended up in a wreck that ended our day early in the American Ethanol Chevrolet,” Dillon said after being cleared from the infield care center. “It’s just part of speedway racing. What do you do? You can go and race hard all day. You can ride in the back and try to not to get in one of those big wrecks. We chose to run right in the pack and it bit us today. I was proud we earned some stage points at the end of Stage 2.”