Penske Expands Newmans Role

CONCORD, N.C. -- Call it Penske Motorsports' "ABC" program.

At a much-anticipated press conference Wednesday afternoon at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Penske announced it would field cars for up-and-coming young driver Ryan Newman in three series -- ARCA, NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Winston Cup -- during the 2001 season, with plans of taking Newman full time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2002.

It ended up being quite a day for Newman, who led every lap in his ARCA race at Lowe's on Wednesday night.

Newman's No. 02 Fords will be sponsored by Alltel, which currently sponsors Newman in a limited schedule in the ARCA/Bondo Mar-Hyde Series. In the Winston Cup Series, Newman will become a teammate of Penske Racing South stalwart Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. His first Winston Cup race will actually be the Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway next month.

"It's a dream come true for me," said Newman, a former USAC champion. "I've got such great people behind me. It's going to be great to have someone like Rusty as a teammate, someone I can really go to for advice and learn a lot from. This is going to be a tremendous opportunity for me.

"It's an honor to become part of the Penske Racing family. I'm looking forward to competing in all the ARCA and NASCAR series events and to being an active player in this winning team we're building at Penske Racing."

The 22-year-old Newman will run four ARCA races next season - at Daytona, Pocono, Talladega and Atlanta - will make 12 Busch Series starts and will run seven Winston Cup races. None of those events will coincide with each other on any particular weekend. Newman made his stock-car racing debut in a Penske Racing South Taurus on June 10 in the ARCA Series event at Michigan Speedway. He qualified second and wound up finishing seventh, despite finishing on only seven of eight cylinders.

In his second race, carrying Alltel's sponsorship, Newman qualified second and led half of the 80-lap race at the tricky 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway on his way to his first career stock-car victory.

On Monday night, Newman set the Lowe's Motor Speedway track record in qualifying for Wednesday night's EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100 with a fast lap of 186.780 mph, putting him on the pole.

"Ryan is obviously a talented driver," Wallace said. "Anybody that can get out of an open-wheel car and get in a stock car and drive it the way he has, you know he can drive. Now, Ryan and that team have to put that whole package together and build this into a strong two-car effort. We're really impressed with what we've seen out of Ryan so far. I think it's a great program, and I know everybody's got a lot of work to do. It's going to be a tough 'ABC' deal, but it's a great way to get him knowledge and experience on these tracks."

"Ryan Newman is certainly one of the special young talents on the American racing scene today," said team owner Roger Penske. "He's a proven winner who has successfully demonstrated his driving skills in both the open-wheel and stock-car arenas. The combination of Alltel and Penske Racing to support this new phase of Ryan's career provides the solid foundation needed to get him to the next level of competition."

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