Engine, tires make a bad day for Newman

LAS VEGAS -- A day that started badly for Ryan Newman
quickly got worse in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.

An engine change sent him to the back of the field after he
qualified 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

A failure of his right front tire on lap 91 sent him into the
wall and then home after finishing last in the 43-car field.

"It was just the tires," he said of Sunday's early end after
Saturday's engine problems.

"We got behind the eight ball yesterday and that hurt some.
Getting into the wall hurt a whole lot more. Goodyear's got some
work to do."

A right front tire failure also sent Reed Sorenson into the wall
on the 41st lap. He finished 40th.

Phil Holmer, Goodyear field manager for NASCAR, said the problem
was more typical of a short track in the summertime than on a
high-speed oval where late winter temperatures struggled to reach
the low 50s.

"We found melted beading on those two tires. That surprised us.
It's a Martinsville type of situation and doesn't happen on the big
tracks," he said.

After Saturday's readings in the low to mid 40s, Holmer said
some of the teams may have underestimated the slightly higher
temperatures in the mid 50s on Sunday.

Odds man out: Pole sitter Greg Biffle's eighth-place finish
disappointed him and frustrated Las Vegas oddsmakers, who picked
him as an 8-1 favorite to win -- second only to Tony Stewart's 7-1.
But the legal sports books didn't factor in Jeff Gordon.

"I know the 24 came down and kind of gave me a door slam down
the backstretch," Biffle said. "I'm not sure what that was about.
I used to have quite a bit of respect for him. I'm not sure if I've
got as much any more.

"We got the side of the car smashed in by the 24. We never
pulled out. It's about all there is to it, I guess.

"We needed this for the points. Eighth is not where we targeted
coming out here."

Biffle, last year's runner-up to champion Stewart, is 20th in
the standings, 271 points behind winner Jimmie Johnson.

Stewart faded near the end of Sunday's race and finished 21st.
The two-time champion is 19th in the standings, 236 points behind

Another year: Las Vegas natives Kurt and Kyle Busch, who have
won several races in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex except
the big one, will have to wait another year.

Kyle Busch, 20, lurked behind Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth in
the closing laps, but finished third. His 26-year-old brother,
Kurt, was 16th.

"Being able to run that well in our home town gives me a lot of
pride," Kyle Busch said.

He added that he was sorry his brother wasn't closer to the

"I was looking at the pylon to see where he was running. It's
not that I'm the hometown hero. I was hoping he would do better,"
he said.

The brothers, both graduates of Las Vegas' Durango High School,
finished 2-3 here a year ago, with Kyle the faster of the two.

Ebb tide: The No. 32 Tide Chevrolet caught fire in the garage
the morning of the race when a loose oil line let go as the team
was warming up the engine.

Fire retardant put out the fire and the team replaced heat
shields but did not have to change the engine, so Travis Kvapil
started 33rd. His race wasn't much better, as the car developed an
oil leak and he wound up 39th.

No appeal: Bill Saunders, co-owner and general partner of the
Hall of Fame Racing team, said Sunday the team will not use its
final appeal to try to overturn penalties imposed by NASCAR for a
technical violation in Daytona 500 qualifying.

NASCAR inspectors found an unapproved carburetor modification
was used in the No. 96 Chevrolet.

A three-member panel from the National Stock Car Racing
Commission last week unanimously upheld the NASCAR ruling,
including a $25,000 fine to crew chief Philippe Lopez and loss of
25 points by both driver Terry Labonte and Saunders, listed as
owner of the car and a co-owner of the new team with former NFL
quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

The team could have appealed that ruling to NASCAR commissioner
Charles D. Strang.

No close shave: It will take a backflip for Tom Giacchi to
bring out the blade.

He's the motor coach driver for Carl Edwards and says he will
not shave again until Edwards pulls into Victory Lane.

The 4 o'clock shadow is now a four-month shadow. Edwards' last
victory came Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway. He finished 26th on
Sunday and was never in contention.

Ironically, Edwards was recently inducted into the Gillette
"Young Guns" program and helps promote the Gillette Fusion.
Giacchi can't wait to use one again.

Flying high: Ken Schrader got two tastes of speed this week in
the Nevada desert.

On Thursday, three days before Sunday's race, he flew with Air
Force Thunderbird pilot T.C. Clark out of Nellis Air Force Base
just across the street from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"T.C. let me fly it some and that was awesome," the driver

Schrader said there were similarities to driving the No. 21
Motorcraft Ford, but not many.

"We've got some acceleration, but nothing like that and we
don't pull any kind of G force like that," he said. "They don't
have to deal with a wall, but we don't have to deal with the