Late Race Melee Dooms Newman's Shot at Daytona 500 Victory U.S. Army Driver Leads Most Laps, Finishes 22nd
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2011) -- With fewer than three laps remaining in Sunday's Daytona 500, Ryan Newman was in position to claim his second career victory in NASCAR's most prestigious race.
But running in second place as the pack of cars were battling for position on the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway, Newman's U.S. Army Chevrolet got collected in a multicar accident on Lap 197, ending any chance of visiting Victory Lane in the Great American Race.
Newman led the most laps (37), including Laps 182-192 and Lap 196. The 200-lap scheduled race went into double overtime with two green-white-checkered restarts.
When the dust settled at the 2.5-mile oval, Newman was credited with a 22nd-place finish.
"We had a plan and we had the horsepower to win this race," said Newman. "But we were on the wrong end of a typical restrictor-plate finish. It's disappointing, but we'll Soldier on and fight even harder next week."
After the five-car accident, which also involved Denny Hamlin, Regan Smith, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer, Newman came down pit road for repairs and a fresh set of tires. He fought his way back to 10th in the first green-white-checkered restart, but was once again involved in a multicar wreck on the backstretch.
"We still had hope for a decent finish, but the last accident ruined a great day of racing for our U.S. Army team," said crew chief Tony Gibson. "We definitely had the car to win the race. I wasn't counting the laps at the end because I've been there before. You never count until you cross the (finish) line."
Newman's teammate, Tony Stewart, finished 13th.
The race winner was rookie Trevor Bayne. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Carl Edwards, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte and Kurt Busch.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday (Feb. 27) at Phoenix International Raceway.