Pocono Race Report

Newman nudges Strait away for Pocono pay-off by Don Radebaugh Long Pond PA, 7-22-00 – Outside polesitter Ryan Newman, in only his second ARCA start, led the most laps, raked in the most money, rumbled with veteran Bob Strait, and in...

Newman nudges Strait away for Pocono pay-off by Don Radebaugh

Long Pond PA, 7-22-00 – Outside polesitter Ryan Newman, in only his second ARCA start, led the most laps, raked in the most money, rumbled with veteran Bob Strait, and in the end, won the Pepsi ARCA 200 Saturday afternoon at Pocono Int’l Raceway.

And it was the end that got everyone’s attention when Newman, outfitted in a Penske-prepared Alltel-sponsored Ford Taurus, nudged Strait out of the way with less than 3 laps remaining to win under caution on the tricky Pocono triangle. While Newman relished in victory lane before a healthy Pocono crowd as well as a live TBS TV audience, Strait on the other hand, who led the points going in, left with a 105 point deficit to new point leader Frank Kimmel and loaded a wrecked race car for the ride home. In addition, the final yellow flag caused the race to finish under caution.

“We had a good hard race,” said Newman in victory lane. “I think he had older tires than I did. He ran me pretty hard – ran me down a couple of times. By all means, I didn’t intend to get into him there; it’s just that it was real hard racing and we got together. I hit a bump and I got up into him and you saw what happened there.”

Newman, who was never more than 3 lengths from Strait for the final 15 rounds had, more than once, positioned his right-front fender inside of Strait’s left rear quarter before he got too close off turn one and turned Strait’s car straight for the infield guardrail. Strait made heavy head-on contact, and while he was unhurt, the former point leader seemed plenty steamed. “It wasn’t right to win a race like that,” said the 15-time ARCA winner. “I have never raced that way and would never do anything like that. I told ARCA my feelings – I doubt they will take away the win.”

Kerry Earnhardt was continually in the hunt throughout the 200-miler and finished second in the Teresa Earnhardt Chevrolet recording his third consecutive top-3 ARCA finish after four starts ahead of Kimmel, Tim Steele and Mike Swaim Jr to complete the top-five finishers.

David Keith, who won the pole in the Sadler Brothers-Shoney’s Inn Ford, chased Newman in the early going before the 2000 Daytona ARCA 200 winner cut down a right-front tire and hit the wall ending his day just 16 laps in. Newman got the crowd fired-up early when, leading the way under caution, started aiming for pit road while 20-plus race cars lined up directly behind with the same plan. Newman then, at the last possible opportunity, turned hard-right and steered back onto the frontstretch while his pursuers, the closest ones already committed, rolled down pit road for service. Although Newman continued to lead as the race neared halfway, the South Bend, Indiana driver, having not been down pit road yet, was forced to pit under green for gas and tires out of sync with the competition. “The fuel window was right at the wrong place,” said Newman. “We were looking at about 30-something laps for a fuel window so when that first caution came out at 12 or 14, we were wondering what to do. We decided that track position was best and stayed out front. Tire wear wasn’t really bad with the Hoosier tires so we went after that strategy.”

It was that strategy that helped Newman survive five cautions for 36 laps and several lead changes with Strait who raced hard with the eventual winner throughout the 80-lap event. Newman led a total of 40 laps while Strait, in Mark Thompson’s familiar #66 Midway Islands Ford, led 36. One of those cautions resulted from an extremely hard crash in turn one when Shawna Robinson made contact with Ron Cox sending both machines hard into the Pocono cement wall. Cox’s John Dunn Trucking Chevrolet received extensive rear-end damage while Robinson’s ride took a hard lick to the front. Neither driver was hurt and Cox, because of it, was awarded the Landrum Spring Hard Luck Award . Robinson was already reeling after earlier colliding with her own crew member Christopher Rodgers during a pitstop. Rodgers was transported to the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and diagnosed with a deformation of the left knee-cap but otherwise in good condition.

Winston Cup veteran Morgan Shepherd finished sixth in Stan Hover’s Loctite Ford in front of Billy Venturini’s Permatex Chevy in seventh. Rookies’ AJ Henriksen and Damon Lusk were contenders throughout and finished eighth and ninth respectively while Mark Gibson, in the PSEG Chevrolet, completed the top-10. Joe Cooksey, Gibson’s teammate, was awarded the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors for racing his CompuServe Chevrolet from 33rd starting position to 12th in the final rundown.

Next events for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series are Saturday, August 12 under the lights at Winchester Speedway for the Winchester ARCA 250 before the series heads west to Springfield Illinois Sunday, August 20 for the running of the PARADICE 100 on the mile dirt.

CURRENT POINTS: Frank Kimmel 2845, Bob Strait 2740, Tim Steele 2690, Brian Ross 2585, Andy Belmont 2460, Mark Gibson 2460, Bobby Gerhart 2385, Shawna Robinson 2335, Norm Benning 2315, Cavin Councilor 2110.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Shawna Robinson , Frank Kimmel , Andy Belmont , Kerry Earnhardt , Bobby Gerhart , Tim Steele , Billy Venturini , Damon Lusk , Ron Cox , Mark Gibson , Norm Benning , Morgan Shepherd , Brian Ross , Mark Thompson