Live Coverage From Charlotte

10283Jpg
With several Busch Series poles and one Winston Cup pole there is no skirting the issue – Ryan Newman is a perennial, legitimate contender to top qualifying every time.

After beginning the season with an ABC schedule (ARCA, Busch and Cup), Newman said he now feels he’s more knowledgeable about the Winston Cup Series and is more comfortable with it heading into next season, his first full time on the circuit. His next Winston Cup event will be the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway this Sunday.

His first career Winston Cup pole came in May at Lowe’s, where he started up front for the prestigious Coca-Cola 600. He will be one of the favorites to win the pole for this Sunday’s race. PRN’s live broadcast of Thursday’s qualifying is set for 6:45 p.m. EDT.

PRN will broadcast live from Lowe’s Motor Speedway throughout this weekend, including the Easy Care Certified 100 ARCA race, Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. EDT; Little Trees 300 Busch race, Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EDT; UAW-GM Quality 500 Cup race, Sunday at 11:30 a.m. EDT, and a special broadcast of the “UAW-GM Post Race Talk Show” immediately following the race.

Pole performance aside, the question was could Newman race with the big boys at NASCAR’s highest level? That query was answered with a resounding “Yes” last Sunday in the inaugural Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway.

For the first time in his short career, the driver of Roger Penske’s No. 2 ALLTEL Taurus had a realistic shot at winning a Winston Cup race, something that is more than likely inevitable in the not-so-distant future for the young former open-wheel standout. If it weren’t for the fact that another former open-wheel standout – namely three-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon – was the driver he was chasing, Newman might have just been celebrating in victory lane.

Newman’s second-place finish was his best in six career Winston Cup starts, besting a fifth-place finish at Michigan in June, a track where he earned his first career Busch Series triumph in August.

“This is probably the highlight of our season,” Newman said. “We had our first pole at Charlotte and several Busch poles and a Busch win, but finishing second here at a new race track to Jeff (Gordon) is really a highlight.

“It is definitely gratifying for me as a driver to know that we’re capable of driving where we ran today and finished second to a champion like Jeff. We overcame a lot of adversity and that, to me, is just as important as finishing up front. Giving us the opportunity to do that is definitely key, so I guess overall it was just a great weekend for the entire ALLTEL team. When we struggled, we struggled for a little bit and overcame that adversity.”

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Sunday’s effort by the ALLTEL team was that they finished runner-up to Gordon’s in a backup car. Newman crashed his primary car during practice on Friday and the team was forced to hurry and get the backup ready just prior to qualifying.

The ALLTEL crew did an admirable job and Newman wound up qualifying a respectable 17th Friday afternoon.

“I was definitely down before qualifying, knowing that we didn’t have any laps on a car we were getting ready to qualify, and that’s pretty risky, Newman said. “That was something we had to do, so it wasn’t a risk. I’m just happy to be able to get the finish we did this weekend. That’s a credit to all the guys on this ALLTEL team.”

In the movie “Days of Thunder,” about a renegade stock car driver, Tom Cruise was quoted as saying, “There’s nothing I can’t do with a race car.” Apparently that saying applies to Newman – one of the more highly touted newcomers on the NASCAR scene in recent years – as well.

“The kid is amazing and is an incredible talent,” said Rusty Wallace, Newman’s Penske Racing teammate. “I’m high on him and proud to have Ryan as my teammate, for sure. Unlike a lot of young guys coming into our sport today, Ryan has done it the right way. He’s smart and knows how to handle situations as good or better than many of the veteran guys.

“He shows tremendous respect for the sport and all the guys with more experience. He’s aggressive, but not cocky. He has a good attitude and a great personality. He’s already getting a real solid fan following behind him.”

With Jeremy Mayfield leaving the No. 12 Mobil 1 team as of Tuesday morning, Newman is instantly thrust into the No. 2 position among drivers, behind Wallace, at Penske Racing.

Newman’s presence in the final laps of last Sunday’s race was enough to keep Gordon on his toes, especially after the re-start with six laps remaining in the 400-miler. Gordon was keeping an eye on Ricky Rudd – his closest competitor in the Winston Cup point standings who was running second at the time – but it ended up being a hungry Newman he had to be leery of.

“I saw Rudd coming (in the closing laps), and he was closing in on me,” said Gordon, who beat Newman to the checkered flag by .413 seconds. “So that last re-start, I didn’t know what was going to happen. And then I saw Newman getting be Rudd and I thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go again. It was never ending. But my car was really good there at the end.”

Newman has ruffled the feathers of a few Busch Series opponents this season with his aggressive style of driving, but Sunday he kept his nose clean until the final laps and was hoping he’d get a better shot at overtaking Gordon, an opportunity that might have come with a couple of more laps.

“I was pretty calm and collected (after the late re-start),” Newman said. “With six laps to go, it was just like being at home with the open-wheel stuff. My crew chief, Matt Borland, did an excellent job of making a call to go with a gas-and-go (pit stop) that got us out sixth at the time and gave us an opportunity to stay up front and use the track position to our advantage.

“I never really expected to get past Ricky (Rudd) like that. He had gone by me a couple of times during the day and he looked pretty strong, so to be able to be there with Jeff at the end was definitely fun.”

Running up front and challenging for the win just adds to Newman’s learning experience, one that hasn’t stopped since he first strapped into a sprint car as a yougster.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot more this year,” Newman said. “It seems when you get up toward the front of the field, you’re less prone to being involved in accidents. When you get out front like we were (Sunday), it’s just an opportunity to drive better and be able to race better.

“It really gives me a lot of momentum going into Charlotte (this weekend), knowing that we really ran well there before. I made a mistake and we didn’t finish the race, but we’ve got great notes. We’re going back to Charlotte and this should give us a lot of momentum as far as the team – to go back and make the next step.”

Newman’s great qualifying presence has impressed more than just himself and his team owner, it’s also doing wonders for his reputation in the garage.

“I really get a kick out of watching the kid qualify,” Wallace said. “Heck, he’s already got seven or eight poles this year, and most of the time, he just blows the competition away and wins ‘em by two tenths (of a second) or more.

“He and his crew chief (Borland) have a great relationship, and it reminds me of what (Wallace’s crew chief) Robin (Pemberton) and I have working for us. Not only do they fit well together as a team, they have a really close, best-friend-type relationship, too.”

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

Photos

  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • Toyota Owners 400
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • From the Archives: Richmond
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes

Advertisement

You may unsubscribe at any time.
Motor Racing Network
555 MRN Drive
Concord, NC 28027
www.mrn.com/Footer/Contact-Us.aspx
(704)262-6700
feedback@mrn.com
  • © 2015 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites