BUSCH: Newman captures his first Busch win at Michigan

By PNSchilke - Motorsport.com Michigan International Speedway -- Saturday, August 18, 2001 -- Under partly sunny skies with warmer temperatures and higher humidity than yesterday's practice and qualifying, the Busch Grand National teams were...

By PNSchilke - Motorsport.com

Michigan International Speedway -- Saturday, August 18, 2001 -- Under partly sunny skies with warmer temperatures and higher humidity than yesterday's practice and qualifying, the Busch Grand National teams were busy in the garage area this morning setting the cars up for race day. It is quite interesting to take a stroll through the garage area in the early morning hours -- some teams quite calm with a lot of team precision going about their usual race day business while others are frantically making last minute changes on the cars. All of them are aiming for one goal -- Winner's Circle.


Randy Newman Photo: Ford Racing.

Race time tension fills the pre-race ceremony atmosphere of the start and opening laps. That air of tension proves out to be true as a major accident happens on lap five going into turn two. Kevin Harvick got loose which caused Kevin Lepage to check-up while Mike Skinner nosed into Lepage. This set off a chain reaction. Greg Biffle in the Grainger Ford took the worst of the banging as he was hit by several cars which ended the Roush driver's day and valuable championship points. Lepage's day in his State Fair Corn Dogs/Ball Park Ford was also ended. Both Biffle and Lepage were uninjured.

Randy LaJoie had front end damage but did continue and stayed on the lead lap. Mike Skinner also remained on the lead lap after a pit stop where the crew took a baseball bat to straighten out the right front fender from the tire. Interesting the tools the teams come up with to fix body work.

The race then settled down with Randy Newman and the lead followed by a group consisting of Harvick, Skinner, Tony Raines, and Jimmy Spencer. Two more cautions for debris prior to lap 98 and by lap 100, the race for the win was underway.

Lap 100 -- Average speed 137.15 -- top six were Newman, Harvick, Spencer, Raines, Jimmie Johnson and Skinner.

With 15 laps to go, the fourth caution (debris, turn 4) came out.

Green flag with 10 laps to go and Harvick gave Newman a run for his money going into turn one. Newman held him off and kept the lead. Jeff Green's engine went after running on seven cylinders for last quarter of the race but he managed to get it on the apron and safely into pit lane. Spencer's Yellow Chevrolet ended up on the apron with three laps to go with an engine problem. The Rockwell Automation Chevrolet of Skinner also developed an ill engine in the last few laps.

Checker flag for Ryan Newman and the Alltel Ford team. "That is the type of drive you like, good drive by Ryan and great pit stops. Just what we needed," said Matt Borland, crew chief. Newman celebrated on the track with some flying donuts on the front straight and turn one. Then went past the fans in the main grandstands slowly while they were cheering and he was waving. Newman found his way back off the track at turn four to enter Victory Lane at MIS. "The Alltel crew was awesome. Pit stops were excellent. cannot begin to thank everyone for today (Roger Penske, Rusty Wallace, Alltel, my crew)", said Newman. When asked about the last ten laps he said, "Harvick held with me for quite a while but I held him off. I had a better car. The car was excellent." Rusty Wallace commented on the team and Newman, "Last pit stop was real good."

Top five: Newman (Ford), Harvick (Chevy), Raines (Chevy), Johnson (Chevy) and Mike McLaughlin (Pontiac).

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Series NASCAR-NS