Ryan Newman fought an embittered battle with Tony Stewart to earn his first race of the year at New Hampshire International Speedway. Stewart led a race-high 173 laps, but as pit strategies played out Newman managed to grab the lead on lap ...
Ryan Newman fought an embittered battle with Tony Stewart to earn his first race of the year at New Hampshire International Speedway. Stewart led a race-high 173 laps, but as pit strategies played out Newman managed to grab the lead on lap 181.
"I never expected to have a second shot at Tony," said Newman. "That was short track racing; it was the best racing in my opinion at NHIS. When Tony got by me I thought I was done, but he never walked away.
Stewart settled for second collecting his 19th top-ten of the season.
"I got used up a little bit on top there but that was a good race," Stewart said. "That's awesome short track racing right there. They (the fans) got their money's worth today. That's the way the race to the Chase should start, just like that. It should be between three of the top guys in the series who are racing for the point championship. Ryan (Newman, race winner) did an awesome job. We just couldn't hold him off."
Matt Kenseth survived an early race tire issue that sent him from the top-five to 27th to garner third.
"I don't know we got a lug nut jammed there for some reason and it did good coming back," Kenseth explained. "The strategy worked out right, we didn't really do it on purpose, but after we pitted there, we had only like 10 laps and all the leaders pitted and that got us back to the front and we were able to hold it."
Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. complete the top five.
"I couldn't be happier," said Biffle. "That right there could have very well been the race that determines the championship."
When the field restated Stewart continued to lead but the grid did not stay green long. J.J. Yeley hit the wall in the No. 11 Chevrolet. Stewart again led on the subsequent restart.
Stewart was still the leader on lap 72 when the third caution of the day was caused by the No. 49 Dodge of Kenny Schrader cutting a right front tire. All of the leaders made their first pit stops of the day under that caution.
Stewart just beat Kenseth off pit road to retain the race lead. On the restart, Stewart quickly jumped out to a five car advantage over the field. He led through lap 104 when the fourth yellow was displayed for Travis Kvapil hitting the wall in the No. 77 Dodge.
When the leaders pitted Elliott Sadler beat Stewart off pit road grabbing the top spot. Troubles for Kenseth who was running third, he pitted and got tires but upon exiting the right front tire was not turning due to a lug nut bouncing up and becoming lodged between the wheel and the rotor. Kenseth had to return to pit road and restarted 27th.
Sadler led on the restart at lap 108 but Stewart dived down to the bottom, worked on the No. 38 Ford and got back to the top spot on lap 110. Stewart once again checked out on the field until the grid was slowed at lap 137 when Schrader had another tire failure slamming hard into SAFER barrier wall.
After pit stops, Mark Martin came out in the top spot with Stewart 10th on the restart at lap 142. The green flag wasn't out long; at lap 147 Jimmy Spencer hit the wall taking Jamie McMurray and Joe Nemechek with him.
As Kahne was limping the No. 9 Dodge down the apron to pit road he spied Busch coming down the track and made a hard right turn into the No. 5 Chevy in retaliation. Busch had to come to pit road for repairs, Kahne was out of the race - although it was unlikely the No. 9 could have returned with the damage sustained; NASCAR parked him for the rest of the race due to his behavior.
"If people are going to run you over for no reason and think they're going to get away with it, you just go out there and ruin their day, too," said an irate Kahne. "That's the way I feel."
On the restart at lap 171, Stewart finally made it around Martin to get back the lead. Stewart had just started to distance himself from the field when Kyle Busch spun on lap 179 bringing out the seventh caution.
Newman did not pit under the ensuing stops earning the lead, Stewart restarted 13th. A tandem spin, however, on lap 190 slowed the race again. Mike Bliss and Nemechek spun and in turn Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon made contact, destroying the No. 7 Chevy. All four cars were running in the top ten at the time.
Temperatures were on the rise in the races closing laps. Gordon waited on the race track for Waltrip and flung his helmet at the No. 15 Chevy's window.
"You know everybody thinks Michael is a good guy," said Gordon. "He's not a good guy. The caution was out and he wrecked me. He's a piece of (expletive). It is what it is."
The cars were brought down pit road and stopped under the red flag on lap 198 for eight minutes while NASCAR made sure the track was free of debris. The cars circled the track under yellow before the restart on lap 202.
Newman remained the leader until he was forced to pit under green on lap 234 relinquishing the lead to Stewart. Stewart led until he too was forced to make his last pit stop under green at lap 259.
That gave the lead to Earnhardt, Jr. but when Earnhardt decided to go to pit road a few laps later, Stewart made contact with the back of the No. 8 Chevy crushing down a piece of sheet metal down on the No. 20 Chevy causing a tire rub on Stewart's ride.
Brian Vickers' led with less than 30 laps to go, but also did not have enough gas to get to the end. He pitted on lap 278 giving the lead to Sterling Marlin. With 21 to go, a debris caution slowed the field.
After things cycled through on the last round of stops, Newman again found himself at the front of the grid with Stewart on his back bumper on the restart at lap 285. Stewart feverishly tried to make the pass on the No. 12 Dodge which he finally managed on lap 292.
Newman and Stewart fought door-to-door in the closing laps, with Newman finally powering past on lap 299. In the end, Stewart just couldn't catch Newman who earned his 12th career win.
There were 10 cautions for 60 laps and 12 lead changes among 18 drivers.
Tony Stewart leads the Chase for the Championship field. Greg Biffle (-20), Ryan Newman (-40), Rusty Wallace (-40), Matt Kenseth (-50), Jimmie Johnson (-53), Mark Martin (-54), Jeremy Mayfield (-95), Carl Edwards (-109) and Kurt Busch (-142) complete the top ten.
Notably, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon were all called into the NASCAR trailer to discuss their on track temper tantrums. Jim Hunter, Vice President of Corporate Communications, expressed that fines and possible suspensions for those activities could come as early as Tuesday morning.