Watkins Glen: Jasper Motorsports race summary

Boris and Blaney finish 13TH and 18TH, respectively, at The Glen; Newman leads four Penske-Jasper Engine entries in top-20. Boris Said and Dave Blaney produced the best overall team-finish at Watkins Glen in eight career NASCAR Winston Cup...

Boris and Blaney finish 13TH and 18TH, respectively, at The Glen; Newman leads four Penske-Jasper Engine entries in top-20.

Boris Said and Dave Blaney produced the best overall team-finish at Watkins Glen in eight career NASCAR Winston Cup starts for Jasper Motorsports, and Ryan Newman led four Penske-Jasper Engine entries in the top-20, finishing second behind race-winner Tony Stewart in the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen.

Said moved steadily through the field in the #67 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford from his 29th-place starting position, making a late-race surge into the top-15 after a final pit-stop under caution on Lap 53.

Said, the current Trans-Am Series leader, moved into 13th by Lap 70, and appeared positioned to pick up more spots, but three late caution periods slowed the field and allowed all the front-runners--many of whom were close on making the full 90 laps on gas--to complete the 220.5-mile event without pitting again.

"Track position was everything and it was just hard to get up there," said Said, who finished eighth at Watkins Glen in 2001 in the #77 Jasper Ford. "Those guys were blocking just like I would. I didn't want to take out any of the regulars, so I raced as hard as I could. I think if we would have started closer to the front, we probably would have finished closer to the front.

"We only needed two stops and that's what we planned on doing. I was patient the first half of the race and tried to charge at the end, but we kept getting those yellows. It took my car a few laps to come in, but I'm happy with 13th. I was hoping for a top 10 and we got close."

Blaney--who qualified 20th but started 16th when two cars in front of him made engine changes and were forced to the back of the field--had a much more eventful day in the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford, leaving pit-road last during pre-race after a small oil leak was discovered, then struggling for much of the race when the shifter broke on Lap 9.

Blaney stayed in the top-15 throughout the race until his car tightened up significantly (along with his shifting-hand) during the last flurry of cautions, dropping him from 14th to 18th in the final to laps.

"I really thought after the last practice Saturday that we had a top-ten car, but we could never quite get to the first group of cars," said Blaney. "The shifter problem sure didn't help, but I really didn't miss that many shifts during the race. The piece broke off right at the boot that covers the base of the shifter mechanism, so I didn't have much to grasp. It would have taken a while to fix, so the guys just gave me a roll of tape on a pit-stop and I taped my glove and what I could onto the stub of the shifter.

"I could get into a corner as good as anyone and almost no one could outbrake me, but at the end, the car just got too tight off, and several guys got past us in the last five miles. Overall for the two Jasper teams, I still believe we made big gains over where the team has been in the past in the two races this season with the #77 and the #67, although I had hoped for more with our team today."

Newman posted a top-five finish for the fifth straight week (and seventh in the last 10 races), leading the event late until Stewart regained the top spot and ran away from the field in the final 40 miles. Robbie Gordon--who was possible denied a chance for victory at Watkins Glen in 2001 when TV battery caught fire in his car and sidelined him while leading the race--was a contender at the front throughout the event, but couldn't catch the top-two at the end.

P.J. Jones, substituting in A.J. Foyt's Pontiac, finished fourth, followed by pole-winner Ricky Rudd, Scott Pruett in Chip Ganassi's Dodge, and Jeff Burton in seventh. Home-area favorite Todd Bodine, Michael Waltrip and Mark Martin rounded out the top-ten, but no performance was as startling as that of Newman, the former USAC standout with a very limited road-course resume.

"We lost the power steering with about 50 laps to go, so I had my hands full, but it was a great day overall," said Newman. "It (the power steering) just progressively went away and I would say with about 40 laps to go it was totally gone. It was a real handful from there on just to hang on to it. Tony got past me there at the end coming into Turn 10. I just had to race him hard, but I was driving through the mirror the rest of the race and tried to hold off the rest of them.

"It was a tough run all day. It's tough racing physically and mentally on race tracks like this. You've got to hit your marks every lap and the car changes and the track changes. Tony and Robby did a good job of racing me clean at the end They could have got me in the back bumper. I'm sure they probably would have if they would have known I didn't have any power steering."

Rusty Wallace gambled along with five other cars and did not pit with the rest of the field when the race's third caution fell on Lap 52 after Kurt Busch's blown engine. He eventually pitted with one-lap remaining in the caution period, losing significant track position to the leaders. Wallace would rally to finish 17th, passing Blaney during a final two-lap dash to the finish after the race was stopped on Lap 87 to move the damaged car of Kenny Wallace in the Turn 1 gravel-pit.

With the finish, Blaney remained 20th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, but made significant gains on the tight group of drivers in the next five positions. Blaney now trails 19th-place Jeff Green by 30 points, 18th-place Bobby Labonte by 34 points, 17th-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 81 points, and Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven in 16th and 15th, respectively, by 106 and 119 points.

Newman, with his WC Series-leading tenth top-five finish of his rookie season, moved up three positions to ninth, and now trails points leader Sterling Marlin by 261 points while Wallace fell one position to sixth, but gained on Marlin and now is only 132 points out of first place entering next weekend's race at Michigan.


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Boris Said , Kenny Wallace , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Scott Pruett , Ricky Craven , P.J. Jones , Chip Ganassi , Dave Blaney , A.J. Foyt , Mark Martin