Ryan Newman found himself in the right place when Sunday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 was called due to rain as he earned a fifth-place finish in his Roush Performance Ford Mustang, his first top-five of the season.
Inclement weather was the story all weekend as it forced the race to be postponed to Sunday afternoon. The rain and lightning held off for the first two stages, making the race official before it was eventually called with 33 laps remaining.
Newman started the day in 18th after qualifying was cancelled on Friday, setting the lineup per the rulebook. Eight laps in the South Bend, Indiana, native reported he was battling loose conditions, before eventually dropping to the back of the pack.
The team pitted for fuel only at lap 37 and Newman ended the stage 20th, still reporting he was loose in his No. 6 Ford. He lined back up 15th for the second 50-lap stage, which featured three yellow flags. Over the course of the 50 laps, Newman pitted three times before ending the stage in 21st, reporting his handling had turned significantly better.
During the stage break crew chief Scott Graves made a strategy call for two tires and it paid off, setting him up second for the restart at lap 105. After battling up front, he eventually shuffled towards the rear of the pack, which ultimately worked in his favor after an 18-car incident occurred at the front on lap 118.
He went on to pit under the yellow for four fresh tires and fuel, but lightning in the area forced the cars down pit road for a lengthy delay as Newman was scored fifth. After another attempt to restart later and an additional delay, NASCAR made the call to end it, resulting in the top five for Newman.
Newman and the No. 6 team return to the track next weekend at Kentucky Speedway for a Saturday night race under the lights. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.