Car number: 12 • Manufacturer: Dodge • Sponsor: Alltel
Owner: Roger Penske
• Team: Penske Racing South
• Crew Chief: Mike Nelson
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Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin Where did this team go? Well, we know one member went to Michael Waltrip Racing, but the team as a whole totally disappeared last season. Once title contenders and feared competitors on pole day and race day alike, the Alltel team suffered through its first no-win season since moving to the circuit full-time in 2002.
The Penske organization still has not figured out the aero sensitivities of the Dodge Charger (or Intrepid) on the intermediate tracks. For a team that once dominated at venues that screamed downforce, this has been a sharp decline.
Ryan Newman will get a new crew chief this season. Gone is Matt Borland. In is Michael Nelson, who took over with two races remaining in the 2006 season. It is hard to imagine that Nelson can turn around the fortunes of the team. He is an engineer in the same mold as Borland, and engineering appears to be what's holding this bunch back.
Newman would be wise to play nice with teammate Kurt Busch as well. Busch is an able pilot, as his 2004 Nextel Cup title will attest, and could pair with Newman to make a potent combo. Newman, however, has never had the reputation of being a great teammate, and we all know the importance of note-sharing in today's NASCAR.
Penske Racing South seems to be in the same shape Richard Childress Racing was in 2005. A quick way back would be to figure out the nuances of the Car of Tomorrow, beating everyone else to the punch. It's unlikely we'll see that - they still are scratching their heads over the Car of Today.
Monitor Newman's relationship with his new crew chief and bet on eight to 12 top 10 runs this season.
2006 Recap For the first time since 2002, Ryan Newman and the Alltel team failed to record a victory in Nextel Cup competition. A strong run in the Daytona 500, where Newman finished third, gave way to a futile battle to tame the Intrepid on NASCAR's intermediate ovals instead of the Charger most Dodge teams were running. The experiment failed to the tune of 20th-, 43rd-, 18th- and 40th-place finishes.
By the time the team was told - er, decided to switch to the Charger model, Newman was so far behind that he never seriously challenged for race wins, much less a spot in the Chase.
This group has a reputation for not sharing information or working well with teammates, so when Newman went lone-wolf with the Intrepid venture, all the ingredients were in place for disaster.
In the end, Newman lost the only crew chief he had ever known in the Cup Series in Matt Borland, and the team settled for an 18th-place points finish.
• The Good: The Daytona 500 was the bright spot for Ryan Newman and his Penske team. In leading 23 laps and finishing a strong third, he recorded the best plate performance for Penske in years.
• The Bad: For a team that is accustomed to winning two poles a month, two poles in a season is not very good. Ten additional top 5 starting spots helped a little, but what does it matter when you're going to sink like a stone once the green drops?
• The Ugly: At New Hampshire, Newman raced Tony Stewart a little too hard, trying to get one of his two laps back, resulting in a crash. The blame is shared, but the result was ugly.