Newman Rallies To Fourth At Dover
June 2, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Yes, it was an eventful weekend and an eventful race. Newman started deep in the field after taking a provisional, tangled early in the race with Steve Park and finally rallied to finish fourth Sunday in the MBNA Platinum 400.
“We just needed track position,” Newman said. “It seemed like we had a good race car, but the air just kept screwing us up. We got up there and got some track position with pit strategy, and we were a contender right there until the end. I wish it was a 500-mile race now.
“It was a good ALLTEL team effort. I want to thank everybody on the team and thank everybody at ALLTEL. We struggled from the start of the green flag in practice for qualifying this weekend and finally turned it around and came home with a Top 5.”
Newman was nowhere near the Top 5 at the start of the race. And after he made contact with Park, Newman’s race looked doomed.
In Turn 2, he and Park touched, sending both sliding down the backstretch. Before they stopped, leader Mark Martin ran into Park’s car, damaging both. Newman, though, was able to continue.
“I’ve seen it happen several times there, and I guess I was the one at fault this time,” Newman said. “I got underneath him and got in the gas and washed the nose. At about the same time, he started coming down the race track. I had been following him for about 10-15 laps, and it was just a racing accident to me.”
Newman and crew chief Matt Borland worked on the car, with Borland making a key decision on the final caution. Newman pitted for four tires, and though Newman restarted eighth, he was able to move to fourth by race’s end.
He even challenged third-place Jeff Burton in the closing laps.
“He didn’t take tires and I had,” Newman said. “It’s just a matter of four tires versus no tires. We raced clean, and that was fun.”
A lot more fun than spinning out – which is what Newman did twice at Dover. But the rookie was able to recover and post a solid finish.