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Coca-Cola Racing Family Roundup: Charlotte

October 14, 2013, Taylor Starer,

Newman finishes eighth, Hamlin ninth

With the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marking the halfway point in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this season, drivers have no time to waste going further. Every turn, pit stop and lap second matters even more.

Ryan Newman led the Coca-Cola Racing Family with a quiet eighth-place finish that didn’t allow him to make any movement in the Chase standings.

A surprising Denny Hamlin made his way though traffic on Saturday night after starting 18th and finished ninth. In recent weeks, Hamlin has been finishing in the upper-teens, so it was refreshing for his team to watch him score a top-10 finish.

A roundup on the Coca-Cola Racing Family in order of how they finished at Charlotte:

Ryan Newman (No. 39)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet 

Recap: Newman started seventh in the 43-car field and held the lead for two laps. It was his struggle with handling that restricted him. Newman remained in the top 10 for most of the race and eventually finished eighth. 
Quotable: "We came out of here with a decent finish, but we struggled a little bit tonight. I just didn’t have the overall speed. (Crew chief) Matt (Borland) made the call to take four tires at the end, but we weren’t able to gain spots like I thought we would knowing that a lot of the guys ahead of us took two. All in all, it’s good to complain about a top-10 finish, but we expected a little more than that."
His standing: Newman is 12th in the standings with 2,147 points.
Outlook: Still holding 12th in the standings, Newman will likely need a top-5 finish at Talladega to climb. He has no previous wins at Talladega.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota 

Recap: Qualifying 18th, it seemed like Hamlin was going to run his typical race that he's been showing for the past few weeks, but that wasn't the case. Hamlin managed to play the role of spoiler and beat out Chase hopefuls for a spot in the top 10 as he finished ninth, right behind Newman. 
Quotable: “Charlotte has been one of our more consistent tracks over the past couple years. We have been fortunate to bring fast cars there."
His standing: Hamlin is 24th in the standings with 608 points.
Outlook: Hamlin has yet to claim a win at Talladega, but he has earned a spot in the top-five three times in his career. Perhaps Hamlin can stay positive and carry his top-10 finish with him to Alabama.  

Greg Biffle (No. 16)

Roush Fenway Racing, Ford 

Recap: Another Chase contender who didn't experience any movement post-Charlotte, Biffle finished 16th in the Bank of America 500. Qualifying third, he lost a lot of ground throughout the race with an ill-handling race car.
Quotable: Biffle was unavailable for comment.
His standing: Biffle is sixth in the standings with 2,167 points. 
Outlook: Biffle has no wins at Talladega, and just two top-five finishes and five top-10s in 21 starts.

Joey Logano (No. 22)

Penske Racing, Ford

Recap: The Chase first-timer dropped one spot in the standings to 11th as he leaves Charlotte and heads into Talladega. Logano had a rough go of it at Charlotte, finishing 18th at a track where he's had success in the past.
Quotable: “It seems like you end up saying this a lot sometimes, but we really had a car that was better than where we finished. I think we had about an eighth to 10th-place car tonight and we finished 18th with it. That is frustrating and we need to work on making these days better. We were just too far off at the start of the race and by the time we were able to get the car to my liking, we were already a couple of laps down. Then, you get no cautions and you just don’t have the chance to make those laps up. We had some slow pit stops and a few problems in the pits and that put us down a couple of spots, too."
His standing: Logano is 11th in the standings with 2,150 points.
Outlook: Logano is 75 points behind leader Matt Kenseth with five Chase races remaining. Strong finishes the rest of the way would give him a considerable boost heading into the 2014 season.

Danica Patrick (No. 10)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet 

Recap: After wrecking on the first lap at Kansas last week, any outcome would have been better for Patrick at Charlotte. Starting 35th in the field, Patrick eventually finished 20th which is her best career-finish so far at the 1.5-mile track. 
Quotable: "We didn’t have a great starting spot with our GoDaddy Chevy, and as always at these mile-and-a-halfs, track position is really important just because how tough it is to run in traffic and as a result pass. It really was just a little tight the first couple of runs and then man, I don’t know what else we could have done to fix the balance. All we needed really was track position and more yellows so we could get back on the lead lap. The team did a really great job of working through practices, and my pit crew did an awesome job of getting me out in record time. I’m just really proud of this team because we made improvements all night."
Her standing: Patrick is 27th in the standings with 554 points. 
Outlook: The last time Patrick raced at Talladega she crashed on Lap 182 and eventually finished 33rd. Hopefully this time around she can finish the race unscathed and in the top 20. 

Tony Stewart (No. 14)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet 

Recap: Stewart missed his 10th consecutive race this past weekend and watched Mark Martin pilot his No. 14 Chevrolet to a 42nd-place finish after blowing an engine early and having to leave the race. Stewart is still nursing his broken leg and won’t return in 2013.
His standing:
Stewart is 25th in the standings with 594 points.


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