Ryan Newman dominates at Charlotte
by Don Radebaugh
Concord, NC, 10-4-00 - Rookie Ryan Newman checked off another perfect ARCA superspeedway scorecard Wednesday night under the lights at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a dominating victory in the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100.
The South Bend, Indiana driver, who started from the pole with a brand new one-lap Lowe's track record, led every lap of the 100-mile contest, and in the end, kept veteran Bob Strait at bay to earn his third career ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series superspeedway triumph in only his fourth attempt.
"My biggest problem was on that last restart," said Newman. "I had Strait behind me and he was nudging me a little bit from behind. I would have done the same to him, but he raced me clean. My hat is off to him because he could have spun me out if he wanted to. The Penske Alltel team is the reason for my success. When you have the right people around you, it makes the whole task a lot easier. This is a brand new racecar, a Penske-built chassis, and it was a rocket all week. The Hoosier tires stuck really good too."
The Hoosier tires were apparently sticking pretty good two days prior when Newman, in the heat of the day, blistered the 1.5-mile oval with a new one-lap record speed of 186.780 mile per hour. The new mark not only obliterated Tim Steele's ARCA record of 182.340 mph, but also eclipsed Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Winston Cup record of 186.034 mph set back in May. To complement Newman's success throughout the week, the Penske-owned Alltel-sponsored team announced Wednesday afternoon its plans for the 2001 season to include four more ARCA starts combined with seven NASCAR Winston Cup and 12 Busch Series starts.
Newman, as did most of the frontrunners, pitted only once for fuel and a set of tires during the race before crossing the final stripe 1.632 seconds in front of runner-up finisher Strait. David Keith, in the Sadler Brothers Ford, finished third while Jason Jarrett, making his career-first ARCA start, finished fourth. Ricky Hendrick, also making his career-first ARCA start, finished fifth in a Hendrick-prepared GMAC Financial Services sponsored Chevy.
Strait, by virtue of his second place finish in Mark Thompson's Midway Islands Ford, kept his championship hopes intact heading into the final two events of the season. "Our objective was to gain some points on Frank (Kimmel). We knew with Penske's car in the line-up, we were pretty much racing for second tonight. But we're still in the race for the championship; we aren't giving up."
Kimmel, who finished seventh in Larry Clement's Advance Auto Parts-Pork White Meat Chevy, still leads Strait by 300 markers for the overall ARCA championship heading to Talladega Superspeedway for the Winn Dixie 300 on October 14. However Strait, the defending Talladega winner, leads the ARCA Superspeedway Challenge points, an accumulation of superspeedway events, over Kimmel. Former ARCA/LMS winner Mario Gosselin finished sixth in the Carter Grandle-Eastern Metal Supply Chevy. Kirk Shelmerdine, in the CLR Ford, last year's EasyCare 100 winner, finished eighth in front of current NASCAR Winston West Series point leader Brendan Gaughan, who finished ninth in his career-first ARCA start. Four-time LMS winner Tim Steele, who went a lap down early in the race from blistered tires, charged back to finish 10th on the lead lap in the HS Die-Softech Ford.
Newman earned $23,070 for his efforts to include the ARCA Pole-Win Bonus and the Auto Value Halfway Leader Award. Brian Ross, who raced the Damon RV Chevy from the 35th starting position to 12th in the final running order, was awarded the Prestone-Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors while Larry Foyt, son of AJ Foyt, was the BSR 2nd Round Fastest Qualifier in the Harrah's Casino Pontiac. Foyt was steadily working his way towards the front before getting involved in a skirmish in turn one with Billy Venturini which eliminated both drivers from competition.
CURRENT TOP-10 POINTS: FRANK KIMMEL 4455, BOB STRAIT 4155, TIM STEELE 4100, BRIAN ROSS 3955, BOBBY GERHART 3720, MARK GIBSON 3600, SHAWNA ROBINSON 3600, NORM BENNING 3440, JOE COOKSEY 3385, ANDY BELMONT 3285.