Road Course Ryan
June 23, 2003 | 12:14 A.M. EST
"The ALLTEL Dodge was pretty good all day," said Newman. "I was fighting having no forward drive most of the day, but the guys worked on it during the pit stops. We came in and took tires and fuel on our last stop and went back out pretty deep in the field. I just worked through traffic and ended up with a good finish. I can't complain with a fifth-place finish at Sonoma. It's our second top 10 here in just two races, so that's pretty good."
Newman's 13th-place qualifying effort marked the first time in 14 straight races he started outside the top 10. The ALLTEL Dodge made its way around the 1.949-mile road course in 77.510 seconds (92.427 mph).
"We picked up a lot from practice, and last year we lost time from practice," said Newman, who started 17th in last year's race. The track was pretty good when I went out. I wasn't really satisfied with the lap I ran and was hoping for at least a top-10 start.">
Newman started the 110-lap race fighting forward drive as he fell back a few spots before the first caution came on Lap 35. The No. 12 came down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and two rounds in the left rear track bar. Newman remained in the top 15 until his last stop on Lap 68. He took four more tires, fuel and, this time, four rounds out of the left side track bar. The major adjustment helped the ALLTEL Dodge work through the field into fifth.
"My spotters, John Erickson and Scott Campbell, did a great job for me today," Newman said. "We got into Tony Stewart a little in Turn 6 and it caused a bit of damage to my left front fender. They were able to see the damage wasn' t hurting the tire, and I was able to stay on the track and get a good finish. I didn't hit him intentionally, but I'm sure he'l be mad and we'll have to talk."
The next NASCAR Winston Cup event is at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 5. The Pepsi 400 is the 17th of 36 scheduled races and will take the green flag at 7:00 p.m. EDT. The event will be televised live on NBC and MRN Radio will feature live radio coverage.