Michigan II: Dodge race report

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) "Yes and no. It's usually a fuel mileage race here of some sorts at Michigan just based on the number of laps and what the fuel mileage usually is for these cars. On one hand we considered yes, but you...

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)

"Yes and no. It's usually a fuel mileage race here of some sorts at Michigan just based on the number of laps and what the fuel mileage usually is for these cars. On one hand we considered yes, but you never know what you're going to get dealt. You never know what lap the yellows are going to be and if you're going to be part of it or where your track position is going to end up. I will say that Matt (crew chief Borland) and everybody at Penske Racing and the ALLTEL team did an excellent job to give me the car first of all, but then the strategy and track position to finish off the deal."

"It don't matter. We can talk about it all day, but it don't matter. We made it to the end. Obviously we were close to running out, but I can't tell you if it was half a lap or four laps. We had a new gas man. His name is Steve, and I honestly don't know his last name. It was his first time gasing in Winston Cup, so it was great bringing home a win for him."

"I can be confident all day, but it's not going to make a difference if they make it. It was just a matter of whether or not they were going to run out. I knew from what Matt was saying that the 97 was one of the few guys based off of being a Roush team that was going to make it. The other guys after seeing them dive off pit road with 10 or 15 laps to go, it was just kind of a wait and see. I wanted to run down Kurt, but I wanted to save fuel. You don't want to give up a second-place finish for a little greed I guess you could say."

"To me it wasn't a fuel mileage race. You guys can look at it two different ways. You had guys who stayed out and gambled and for those guys it was a fuel mileage race. For us it was going to be a question mark of whether we could make it or not. It wasn't necessarily a fuel mileage race. We just went out there and did the best job we could, and fortunately we had enough fuel and good enough mileage to make it to the end. I think the other guys that were on our same strategy, I don't know of any of them that ran out of fuel."

"Matt was definitely worried and the guys on the team were definitely worried about having enough fuel to make it. We had to conserve some fuel, but at the same time, I don't know that we had to conserve some fuel. We might have had eight laps of fuel left in the car and never had to conserve any at all. That's just the gamble part of it. The thing Kurt didn't have going for him, I don't think his car would work on the bottom and ours would. If you can take a two-mile racetrack and make it a mile and three-quarters versus two miles and a quarter, then you're going to have better fuel mileage, and I think that was a contributing factor also."

"I asked for permission to make that move. I didn't want to jeopardize the team because of my greed and a good finish. Seeing that there was I think five laps to go and we had a shot at catching Kurt just from a speed standpoint, I didn't want him to be able to make it on fuel, us to be able to make it on fuel and have plenty of fuel left over and say, 'man, we could have chased him down, but we were too conservative.' I would rather be on the aggressive side than the conservative side. It always looks better in the win column."

"I think the point system is correct. I think the only thing the point system could be benefited from is adding qualifying points in there, just a small amount, 5-4-3-2-1, that's my two cents worth of it. I think it awards consistency and it awards victories with the sliding scale it has. I think in past years the Winston Cup champion has been the true Winston Cup champion."

"They (Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch) were right in front of me, and they rubbed a little bit. They haven't been friends for quite awhile. I don't need to say much more than that."

"We were in fuel saving mode, but we didn't know if we necessarily needed to. It's like holding your trump card for late. If we can save some fuel and catch the leader at the same time, then we could gamble, have a little healthier gamble at the end going for the victory."

"It's an honor first of all to be driving for Penske Racing. To bring home the 50th win for a team that's in the late 60s or early 70s, I know Donohue won the first one, it's just a milestone in Penske Racing history, both for Roger and everybody involved that have got those cars to victory lane in the Winston Cup Series. I feel honored to have been the person to bring home the 50th one. Somewhere, I'll put that on my resume. To me, it's a trophy I can give to Roger."

"The guys did an awesome job getting the car full of fuel first of all, but having the car balanced out. It takes a team effort to win these things. The best driver can have the best race car and still not win without a good team. Fortunately it worked out for us today."

"Somebody said 52 (laps on final tank of fuel). I believe we crossed the line at 52 to go. Those other guys pitted two laps before, and I think we came in with one to go."

DON MILLER (President Penske Racing South)

"I think Ryan Newman when you get right down to it, today you saw a classic Ryan Newman. He asked us three laps from the end if he could go now. 'Have we saved enough gas.' Matt looked at me and said, 'What do you think.' I said, 'let's go.'

"He said he was going to run 'em down. We knew that 97 had to pit. There was no way he was going to make it. We've got an excellent driver. He soft pedals that baby when he knows we're going to be in trouble fuel wise. He's the only guy I'd want."

"I've been there for all 50 Penske wins. From Mark Donohue at Riverside in 1972 with the Matador, all the wins with Rusty. This one was especially good."

MATT BORLAND (Crew chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)

"We had about two tenths of a gallon left. We probably could have made it to turns one or two and that would have been about it. The guys are very good. Mike Nelson does an incredible job calculating fuel. It gets real busy and real hectic and he has to put up with me when he tells me what I don't want to hear. He does a great job, and Ryan does a great job listening to what we tell him. If we tell him he's got to save fuel, he does it."

"We were about four laps short, and he saved that much fuel. We got to a point, and we were committed to that strategy. It worked out great. It's a hard deal. He did a good job coasting and saving as much fuel as he could."

"It'll be tough to hold on to that, but we're going to keep trying to win every race we can. Our goal at the beginning of the season was seven wins. We'll see if we can achieve that. Mathematically, we can go all the way in the points, but it's going to be hard to overcome the lead that Matt Kenseth has built on everybody. You hear a lot of things about a new point system, but Matt has just had a tremendous year. He's missed two laps all season and that's a testament for the whole team. They deserve to be leading the points."

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) Scores circuit-leading fifth victory of the season, sixth career victory and 50th NASCAR Winston Cup victory for Penske Racing. Newman, a 25-year-old South Bend, Ind., native, also leads the series with five poles in 2003.

"We were close (on fuel) at the end no doubt, but it was a team effort. It was unfortunate what happened to Rusty today. It looked like the same thing that happened to us here the first race this year, but we were just fortunate that we held together today. It's a great team effort. It takes absolutely everyone we have at the shop to make this happen. I want to thank all the fans and all the sponsors."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid)

"We had a great car that drove really good, but the straightaway speed killed us and we couldn't get any gas mileage. We had all of those cautions early, but we had to pit and it just killed us. We had a third-place and ended up 19TH, and that's not what we were looking for. Fuel mileage killed us. Once we can get that figured out we'll be good."

BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid)

"We had a good car today. We were definitely capable of finishing better than we did, but we got caught up with the fuel mileage deal and there wasn't too much more we could do about it."

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid)

"We struggled all weekend. It was a tough weekend for us. We didn't qualify good, and we had to go to a backup car, and it just wouldn't run real good."

JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)

"Worst gas mileage and worst motor. That's it."

RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid)

"I'm fine. No problem. I went into turn three and the engine blew. When it blew, it made a really weird sound, a real deep-throated sound like it was sucking in air real bad. I've never heard an engine sound like that before it blew. I didn't know if smoke was going to come out and I was just going to coast into the pits and that was going to be it. All of a sudden I saw the fire out the back. Then I saw a little bit in the floorboard of the car coming up and then it got real hot and a lot of fire, not much in the car, though, mostly under the hood and in the back. I started bailing out at that point. I reached out and pulled the fire extinguisher and nothing worked. He (spotter) said a little coaching at the top of the racetrack, but after that it was up to me to get a good stop. I couldn't get out of the car unless I got the thing stopped. I hit the grass flying at that point. I just popped the net and bailed out. You've got so much junk around your head nowadays, head and neck restraints, cords, all kind of junk. I was waiting on something like that to stick and hold me in there, but it didn't."

"I came off turn four for a scheduled pit stop. I was heading down pit road and everything was fine until the last minute. My crew chief started screaming 'go back on the racetrack. Stay out. Stay out.' So I cut across the track to go back out and evidently Dale Jr. was there and I didn't see him. It was my fault, our fault, whatever you want to call it. The car spun, but I got lucky. It didn't tear it up bad, so I was OK there. Then the engine blew, so it's all over now."

"A lot of fire came into the cockpit, but I tried to pull the fire extinguisher, but the handle was bent. The installation of the fire handle wasn't too good at all. It was just bent over and I couldn't get the thing out."

JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Havoline Dodge Intrepid)

"It was getting really tight there on about the third or fourth lap. We really thought we were going to start loose. I thought I had a left front going down, but I'm not really sure what happened."

CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid)

"The 32 just got out of shape. I was trying to go low, but I couldn't go low. I was turning as hard as I could, and I was going to run right into the back of him, so I had to try to go high. By that time he'd kind of got hold of it and he was trying to go high to get out of everybody's way and I hit him. If it isn't one thing it's another. We just need one clean race to show what we can do. We were going back and forth on the setup there. We were real tight at the beginning and got real loose after the first pit stop. We fixed it, and it looked like we were going to be pretty good. We just needed to get some track position. The 32 messed up, and we got caught up in it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jimmy Spencer , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Mark Donohue
Teams Team Penske