LONG POND, Pa. (June 10, 2007) -- Rain during Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway kept Ryan Newman from earning his first victory since September 2005. Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, was about half a car length from passing...
LONG POND, Pa. (June 10, 2007) -- Rain during Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway kept Ryan Newman from earning his first victory since September 2005.
Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, was about half a car length from passing Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 104 when rain began pouring in turn one, bringing out the yellow flag.
NASCAR ordered the cars to pit road and made an attempt to dry the track in an effort to get the race restarted, but the rain would not hold off and began falling on the Long Pond straightaway between turns one and two. Finally, NASCAR pulled the plug and called the race after 106 of the scheduled 200 laps, leaving Gordon in first and Newman in second.
When the race finally started after a three-hour rain delay, Newman quickly lost the lead to Denny Hamlin, the winner of the last two Pocono events. The car was "tight in turns one and two, but OK in (turn) three," Newman told his crew.
Newman made his first green-flag pit stop on lap 26 for four tires, fuel and two rounds up on the right-side track bar in an effort to free up the car. Once the field cycled through the green-flag stops, Newman was back in fourth, but he still had a bit of a tight condition to fight in his car.
The race's first caution appeared on lap 49 when Robby Gordon's car cut a tire and left debris on the track. Newman brought the Alltel Dodge back down pit road for his second stop and crew chief Mike Nelson called for four tires, fuel and one more round up on the right-side track bar in hopes of freeing up the car just a little more. The 13.33-second stop allowed Newman to restart in second, just behind Hamlin. On lap 54, Newman regained the lead before another yellow flag appeared on lap 56.
On the next restart, Newman held off Hamlin for a few laps, but the race's defending champion was gaining on Newman. He was only a tenth of a second behind Newman when the caution flag waved for the third time.
Nelson told Newman to stay out, but also informed him to keep an eye on the cars behind him.
"If they come in behind you, come in for two tires," Nelson said over the team's radio.
All but six cars came onto pit road and Newman led the way for right-side tires and fuel. Gordon was the first car to stay out and his team's strategy proved to be the right call at the end of the day.
When the green flag waved again on lap 67, Newman was in seventh, but it didn't take him long to make his way back to the front. On lap 73, he was up to third and only had Casey Mears and Gordon's car to pass for the lead.
Both Gordon and Mears pitted on lap 82, handing the lead to Newman. Unfortunately, Newman and the rest of the field were too short on fuel to make it to the halfway mark and were preparing to pit again as well.
Lap 92 saw Newman make his second green-flag stop of the day for four tires and fuel. Newman quickly made his way back up through the field and on lap 99 was in second, chasing down Gordon for the lead and hoping the rain would hold off just long enough for him to get around the 24 car.
On lap 99, Newman was 3.2 seconds behind Gordon and on lap 104 Newman was nearly door-to-door with Gordon when NASCAR threw the fourth and final yellow flag for rain.
After nearly an hour under red-flag conditions, the field received word that NASCAR had called the race and Newman possessed the runner-up position for the second straight week.
Newman now has five top-10 finishes in six races and three top-five finishes in the last four races.
Newman's run put him up to 13th in the points' standings, just 22 points out of the 12th position. He is 685 points behind standings leader Gordon.
Next weekend, Newman will drive the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger in the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway. TNT and MRN Radio will broadcast the race live beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT.