Charlotte Challenges Newman ALLTEL Team Penske

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In May, Ryan Newman and ALLTEL Team Penske recorded their first Winston Cup pole but were sidelined early in an accident. This visit they finished the race, gaining valuable experience.

The Winston Cup competitors began practice on Thursday in preparation for Winston Pole Night. Newman and company hoped to duplicate May's performance and came very close though Jimmy Spencer would earn the pole and Newman would start fourth.

But the team was more concerned about the race and getting the set-up just right. Saturday's first practice was rained out and 'Happy Hour' final practice would be after the rain-delayed Busch race and in different conditions then Sunday's main event.

Sunday when the field finally got the green Newman knew the keyword would be patience. He would need to drive smart to finish well.

Newman battled handling problems throughout the afternoon but his biggest challenge would come on lap 151. Jimmie Johnson spun coming out of turn four and in an effort to avoid a collision Newman took a hard left around Johnson.

Unfortunately Newman sent himself spinning down the infield grass but luckily he didn't hit either retaining wall. He lost a lap in the incident but had plenty of time to make up time. Newman ran strong even though he continued to battle handling conditions.

He finished the 334 lap event in 19th.

"We struggled a little with a tight car but I really thought we were going in the right direction," Newman said. "Spinning through the grass didn't help much but I was happy I was able to save the car. But we finished the race and that was definitely a goal."

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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