Ryan Newman bested the field to earn his series high sixth win of the year at Richmond International Raceway. Newman, whose crew was concerned that he might be short on fuel if the race ran green to the end, got plenty of caution laps at the...
Ryan Newman bested the field to earn his series high sixth win of the year at Richmond International Raceway. Newman, whose crew was concerned that he might be short on fuel if the race ran green to the end, got plenty of caution laps at the race's close -- and easily sailed to his seventh career trip to victory lane.
"We were able to save a little (fuel) when we were running out front there," said Newman. "But, Matt (Borland) and Mike (Nelson) did an awesome job on strategy. We were just fortunate to be in the position that we were at the end of the night."
Newman was leading when a trio of late race cautions created a duel to the checkered flag between the lead cars of Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick. The field restarted with fourteen laps to go, but did not even make one circuit before the yellow came out again for debris. Ten laps remained in the event, as the field got going again, but it would not remain green for long.
Kevin Harvick, while running in the second spot, was bumped by the No. 21 of Ricky Rudd which sent the No. 29 into the wall. Clean-up ensued, and with four laps remaining it was Newman uncontested to the finish line.
"It was hard to pass tonight," Newman commented. "The grooves moved up quite a bit. It was the highest that I've ever seen at Richmond. This was just an awesome run for Penske Racing."
It's a great recovery for the No. 12 team from heartbreaking luck last week. At Darlington, Newman was leading when he accidentally hit the kill switch in his car during a pit stop. It took several minutes for the team to realize the problem, and make amends. The miscue cost Team Penske the win, and relegated them to a 23rd place finish.
Jeremy Mayfield waited out the series of wrecks to get his best series finish of the year, in second.
Ricky Rudd was third but could barely exit his car to begin celebrating, as the No. 29 crew began jumping up and down on his hood; tearing up his race car, "It was thirty guys basically using our race car as a doormat."
"We just got down to the end of the race and it was good hard racing," said Rudd. Kevin (Harvick), I don't know if he had dirt on his tires or what. He couldn't get restarted good on the restart. We went down in turn one and he put the brakes on way early. I don't know why. He must have had a problem and when he put the brakes on I got into the back of him. It wasn't on purpose; it was an accident....This stuff (the melee on pit road) is absolutely ridiculous, to have to put up with this kind of crap."
For the second night in a row, Team Harvick created a sophomoric skirmish on pit road at the close of the race. It was quite a scene as the No. 29 pit crew descended on Rudd -- but no punches were thrown. The only contact between Rudd and Harvick was Harvick tossing his HANS device in Rudd's face.
"I can't help but be angry," said Harvick. "We are running for a championship this year and I thought we had another second (place finish) locked up. We got spun by the 21 (Rudd) going into turn one and he took us out.
"That was pure adrenaline out there on pit road. I was hot and I wanted to let Ricky know that. Things got a little heated with the two teams so we all went for a little chat in the NASCAR trailer."
NASCAR was not pleased with the brouhaha and Vice President of Corporate Communications, Jim Hunter made a brief statement noting, "That we're not going to condone this kind of pit road behavior" and to stay tuned Monday because "there is a very strong possibility of penalties."
As the Rudd-Harvick battle brewed and personnel were called in to see the NASCAR brass, apparently teammate Robby Gordon was busy expressing his displeasure with Saturday's fourth place finisher, Jeff Burton. Burton knocked into the back bumper of the No. 31 Chevy at lap 383 while they battled for fifth position.
Rusty Wallace garnered his eighth top-10 finish of year, with a fifth place result and managed not to get into a fight with anyone.
"Tonight everything went good," said Wallace. "We finally were able to dig up the car and get a great run, but we just ran out of time. I really think I had a great car. I think I had a car that could have won the race. But Ryan was up there with the track position and he ran great. I'm real proud of him."
Point leader Matt Kenseth further proved that the he is encased in a Teflon bubble with regards to winning his first championship. Kenseth dodged several bullets throughout the night, including a lap 85 spin, to gain a seventh place result.
Kenseth now leads the rankings by 418 points.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. saw his title hopes slip further down the tubes, after dominating portions of the race and leading 76 laps. With 44 laps to go, the No. 8 Chevy had a right front tire go flat while running in third position. Earnhardt had to make a four-tire stop under green flag conditions, which cost him valuable track position. He finished 17th.
Kevin Harvick, who wound up placing 16th, remains third in points and trails Kenseth by 441 markers. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon round out the top five in the race for the championship.
There were 14 cautions for 76 laps, including two multi-car accidents; the first of which occurred on lap 95 involving the vehicles of Dave Blaney, Kenny Wallace, Kyle Petty, Steve Park, Johnny Sauter and Dale Jarrett. Jarrett was also embroiled in the big wreck at lap 121, with Jason Leffler, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Christian Fittipaldi and Greg Biffle.