ALLTEL Team Penske Add Solid Finish At NHIS
May 12, 2001 | 8:00 P.M. EST
Practice Friday showed a lot of promise and the team was very confident they had a chance to it on the pole, based also on their performances during the April test. But the track had been sealed and some bumps in the corners had been attended to since then so it was questionable as to what would happen.
Newman went out in the middle of the qualifying order and was able to watch several of his top competitors go ahead of him. And he was also left to wait for several after him. The team qualified fifth, his sixth top-five starting position in seven starts.
During “happy hour” the team “thrashed” through sixty minutes of practikce looking for Saturday’s perfect set-up. At the end of it all they were confident they had a strong car and were going to back up that qualifyng position with a good race finish.
Newman showed his strength early on by moving around three competitors and settle into second behind race leader and pole sitter Kevin Harvick. Unfortunately the car got tight on the long runs and the team knew they had to make some adjustments to get Newman back in the hunt.
A green flag pit stop on lap 90 allowed the team the chance they needed. But as Newman was maneuvering through the field he cut a right front tire. With the finesse of a veteran he kept the 3500-lb. charger out of the wall and onto pit road. He lost a lap while the team made sure there was no substantial damage but once back on the track he gave his all with the time left. Newman turned a potentially damaging situtaion into a 15th-place finish.
“We had a real good race car and we took advantage of our qualifying position,” Newman said. “We definitely would have finished in the top-10 had we not cut that tire. But all in all it’s another good finish for us.”