Ryan Newman gets first win in rain-shortened race; No. 8 Budweiser Team moves through the field to 11th. Rookie Ryan Newman continued to add to his resume this afternoon, as he won the rain-shortened New Hampshire 300 at the New ...
Ryan Newman gets first win in rain-shortened race; No. 8 Budweiser Team moves through the field to 11th.
Rookie Ryan Newman continued to add to his resume this afternoon, as he won the rain-shortened New Hampshire 300 at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The race ended on lap 207 of a scheduled 300 laps after being delayed for rain twice during the day. Newman, who started from the Bud Pole position, held off a hard-charging Kurt Busch in a furious duel in the final laps. Busch was second, followed by Tony Stewart in third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team started near the back of the pack, and moved forward nearly all afternoon despite several tardy pit stops. When the race was called, Dale Jr. was in 11th position, and catching the cars at the back of the top 10 at a rate of nearly a quarter-second per lap. The strange, delayed race not only marked the first victory for Newman, but a new Winston Cup points leader as well. Mark Martin, despite finishing only 16th, climbed to the top past Sterling Marlin, who had led the point charts since the second race of the season. The top eight drivers in points are now separated by less than 200 points, making this the closest multi-driver championship battle in the modern era of Winston Cup racing.
The Key Moments: Dale Jr. and the Bud team were forced to take their first provisional starting spot of the season after a slow qualifying effort. Taking the green flag from the 37th position, Dale Jr. was 30th by the fifth lap and moving up quickly until rain began to fall on lap 16. The Bud team made a pit stop on the following lap, dropping to 35th before the rain strengthened and the race was stopped. The Bud team hoped to use the fresh tires and full load of fuel to move to the front of the field when the race restarted, but a yellow flag on lap 74 allowed the leaders to make pit stops under the caution flag. Dale Jr. stalled the No. 8 exiting the pits on lap 75, and dropped to 30th place. From there, the skies began to darken again, so most teams became more aggressive to try to move up before the rains fell again. Dale Jr. passed 10 cars in 30 laps, and then continued to gain spots with daring passes and avoiding several spins or near-spins in front of him. By the time the team made their final pit stop of the day, Dale Jr. was in the 8th position. The stop dropped them to 21st place on lap 163, and Dale Jr. used the final 43 laps to gain back ten positions.
Dale Jr's Quotes: "I'm pretty happy with that - almost a top ten after starting at the back. We had a good car. Based on our lap times most of the day, a top-five car. But, we started so far back and then had a few poor pit stops that there just weren't enough laps to catch everyone. We run well here on long runs, but our qualifying package just doesn't seem to work worth a damn. In the past two weeks, I feel like I've passed a thousand cars."
"One of those bad stops was my fault. I was taking a drink of water and thinking to myself 'I hope we have a good stop,' when they dropped the jack and I just didn't get outta there very quickly. Then, I stalled the car and lost more time. On the track, I was able to make most of my passes pretty easily today - that's the way you have to do it here. Just ease on by. It's one of those days where I sure would have liked to have been able to run those last 100 laps. I think we'd have been much further up the list. But, we did the best we could and we can go home now and not be too upset."
Best Radio Conversations
The on-again, off-again rain showers made the day long and frustrating. As the drops began to fall again on lap 190, Dale Jr. reported the moisture.
Dale Jr. "There's a good rain out here in turns one and two"
Tony Eury Jr. (car chief): "Yeah, we're feeling a few drops here."
Dale Jr. "Tony Jr. - ya gotta tell me these things. You're up there just sittin' with your computer... but I gotta drive through this stuff"
The rain continued, and the yellow flag was displayed on lap 200, and he referred back to his scolding of Tony Jr.
Dale Jr: "Hey man, I was just sayin' that I get a little nervous at this track. I was nervous about the rain because this place has so much sealer on it, it doesn't take much at all to bust yer ass out here. I just wanna be told (when it's raining)"
Tony Jr.: "10-4 man... We're not stopping. We're staying out."
Dale Jr: "Oh yeah man. We're not running for points anymore, baby, we're goin' for the bling!* (pause) Hey Junior - you would not believe how slick it is out here."
Tony Jr: "Yeah, I can imagine."
Dale Jr: "No man, you can't! (teasing tone) I know you know how it feels to spin out in the dry when you were racing, but this is wild."
* For the Junior-impaired: Bling = money
Points Position: 14th (no change)
Money Won: $70,425
Laps Led: ---
Best Pit Stop: Lap 160 / Stop #3 of 3 / 4 tires, Fuel / 15.71 seconds
Passing Passing Passing
It is estimated that Dale Jr. passed 52 cars during the abbreviated race this afternoon.
Laps Progression Positions Gained
1 - 20 37th to 27th 10 (Lap 20: Pit Stop 1)
21 - 75 35th to 26th 9 (Lap 75: Pit Stop 2)
76 - 160 30th to 8th 22 (Lap 160: Pit Stop 3)
161 - 207 21st to 11th 11 (Race ends early due to Rain)