Ryan Newman Wins at Loudon, Dale Jr. Fifth No. 8 Budweiser Team Leads 8 Laps, Has Strong Run Ryan Newman won a thrilling side-by-side battle with Tony Stewart in the final 10 laps of Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Ryan Newman Wins at Loudon, Dale Jr. Fifth
No. 8 Budweiser Team Leads 8 Laps, Has Strong Run
Ryan Newman won a thrilling side-by-side battle with Tony Stewart in the final 10 laps of Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Newman grabbed his first win of the season, while Stewart's second-place finish allows him to maintain his points lead following the first of ten races toward the Nextel Chase for the Cup. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were strong contenders all afternoon, finishing fifth after leading eight laps. The No. 8 team was the only team not among the Chase for the Cup to finish in the top-eight. This marks the first race reuniting Dale Jr. and his cousin, Tony Eury Jr., who came aboard as the team's crew chief this week. (Eury Jr. had served as Dale Jr's car chief from 1998 through 2004 before becoming the crew chief on the No. 15 car earlier this season.) The strong run gained two positions in the point standings for Dale Jr., who is now 15th, 100 points behind 11th place.
Starting a season-best 3rd, Dale Jr. ran among the leaders for almost the entire afternoon. After a smooth start, the day became fraught with drama and action for the driver of the red No. 8 car, as he avoided a crash between Rusty Wallace and Jimmy Spencer on lap 144. The Bud car did not restart following a red-flag period, was allowed to be push-started without penalty and then narrowly avoided disaster on lap 204 when Elliott Sadler spun in front of him in turn four. The car of Sadler spun into the right-front corner of the Bud car, but the damage was purely cosmetic and did not impact lap times. The final contact of the afternoon took place as Dale Jr. was pulling onto pit lane as the leader on lap 267 (of 300). As Tony Stewart was passing Kyle Petty, he clipped the right rear corner of the Bud car, slicing the right rear fender open like a can opener through a cheap can of tuna. The damage was again more cosmetic than performance-hampering, and Dale Jr. was able to bring home his sixth top-five and 11th top-10 finish of the 2005 season.
Dale Jr. Quotes:
"It was a good finish, but more important, it was a good weekend. We were fast from the first lap of the first practice, had a great qualifying lap and then we were competitive for the entire race. It was great to work with Tony (Eury) Jr. again. He just seems to know what I want when I tell him what the car is doing. I'm glad for the whole team because it's been fun all year with this crew -- we've just not had the results. We've been up and down and we dodged some bullets today to stay up front. It was a fun day."
Best Radio Chatter:
Dale Jr. and the Bud team opted not to make a pit stop during a lap 166 yellow flag, but became concerned a few laps later.
Dale Jr: "I may have a right front (tire) flat."
Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief): "OK, feel it out. If you need to pit, we'll pit. Otherwise, stay out."
Dale Jr: "I need to pull up to the 38 (Elliott Sadler) for him to take a look at the right front. See if it's up."
Jimmy Kitchens (spotter): "OK, the 38 says whenever you're ready, pull up and he'll take a look... he says it's all good... good to go."
Dale Jr.: "OK. But of it does go down on the restart, Jimmy keep talking to me if I get freight-trained on the inside. Let me know when I'm clear to pull down..."
Kitchens: "10-4. I gotcha."
The race was red-flagged on lap 198 to clean substantial debris from the track following a bizarre incident between Robby Gordon and DEI teammate Michael Waltrip.
Tony Jr.: "NASCAR is gonna red-flag the race cuz Robby Gordon wanted to talk to Michael."
The final yellow flag of the afternoon flew on lap 280...
Dale Jr: "The car was much looser there... what position are we in?"
Tony Jr.: "You're 11th, but a lot of those guys gotta stop, so we're really more like fifth... I may have over-adjusted on that last stop, so I'll take the blame, but the reason you may be loose is because your right rear quarter panel is hanging almost straight out after the 20 (Stewart) hit you."
Dale Jr.: "The 20 hit me?!"
Tony Jr: "Yeah, when you were coming in to pit. He just barely got your right rear quarter."
Dale Jr. "Damn. Was I all the way off the track?"
Tony Jr. : "You were OK. He just barely tagged you. And good call to pit earlier on (on lap 180). I thought it was bad call then, but we're really in good shape now."