Ryan Newman crashed during the first day of a Goodyear Tire test at Pocono Raceway on Tuesday, the Richard Childress Racing driver told media Wednesday.
“We had a tire go down,” Newman said. “(It was) not a tire problem. We either cut something or had some kind of leak. Failed the tire. So we had to get another car shipped up here last night.”
The backup No. 31 Chevrolet arrived in time to be prepped for the second day of testing.
“We’ve had a busy day and half of testing so far but don’t have a whole lot to show for it,” said Newman, who made it clear the main purpose of the test session was to help Goodyear and not his team.
“What we’re trying to validate for Goodyear is more important than how we interact with the cars,” Newman said. “Pretty much how the cars are going to be are how the cars are going to be, so you don’t realize that until you come back (for a race). Even during practice time here, you don’t focus on getting out there around other cars, you want to see how you shake out and stack up compared to the other competition.”
While Ryan Newman is faring relatively well after eight races – he’s 16th in the point standings and has two top-10 finishes – one team that hasn’t been performing up to expectations is Larson’s.
Larson is 22nd in the points eight races into his third Sprint Cup season. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has yet to earn a Sprint Cup win and hasn’t led a single lap this year. Even with one top five (Martinsville) and two top-10 finishes, Larson said Wednesday he doesn’t “feel like there’s an urgency to win because we still have to get our cars a lot better to go out there and do it.”
Larson looked to have a car capable of a top five or potentially a win last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. But a broken track bar sent the No. 42 to the garage for an extended period. Later, the car also broke a drive shaft.
Those mechanical problems followed the team to the Pocono tire test, with Larson describing it as “kind of a mess.”
“We worked through a couple of issues throughout both days,” Larson said. “Was having brake problems yesterday, getting a long pedal after a few laps. We had a tire sensor go bad. We had a flat right-rear, I think Newman maybe had left-front issue there. I almost wrecked. He did end up wrecking.”
Larson’s car also lost power steering going through the “tunnel turn” of Turn 1.
Other problems have kept Larson out of victory lane through the first 83 starts of his career. Whether it was the combination of pitting off schedule and rain at Michigan, tire problems at Texas or a caution with 11 laps left in last season’s finale in Miami, Larson’s team hasn’t been able to close the deal.
“I don’t think we’re close right now to contend for top five’s consistently,” Larson said. “Last year, we got close on a couple of them, but that was only because we were off sequence and we were trying to play the rain stuff right.”
After earning top-five finishes in eight races his rookie year, including three runner-ups, Larson has only cracked the top five three times since.
“We still have a lot of work to do before we can go out and contend,” Larson said. “It would be nice to win but I’m more focused on just trying to be as good as a team member as I can and try to work hard to get our cars better.