Strategy Works For Newman

Ryan Newman drove on fumes to a fourth-place finish in Sunday's New England 300 Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway. It marked his seventh top-five finish this season, but it was a finish that was close to not happening.

"I'm really happy with finishing fourth today because we were gambling with the fuel, and we didn't know how far we could go," said Newman. "We stretched the fuel pretty big and I know the guys were ready in case I ran out and had to come in for gas. I'm sure everyone was biting their nails and smoking their cigarettes more than usual today. I took the lead there at the end, but I didn't have anything for the 48. We've got a pretty good track record here in the Winston Cup Series. Hopefully, we can carry it on to Pocono.

Newman didn't get the chance to qualify his No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge after qualifying was washed out, nor did he have the best car on the race track. What he had was luck and a soft foot when it counted.

Newman started the race based on points in the 16th position. The No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge wasn't bad, but Newman complained there was a lot of dirty air and the car was a tick tight getting off the corners.

The first pit stop came on Lap 62, while running 13th. The ALLTEL crew mounted four fresh tires, added fuel and put three rounds into the right-rear wedge. Newman was sent back on track 11th in the running order.

The second caution came on Lap 99, while the No. 12 car was ninth. This time only two tires were changed and the necessary fuel added, putting Newman back on track in the eighth spot. Not too long after the restart, Newman radioed that the car was a tick free, but that it was coming around and should be a good race car for the end.

The third stop for the ALLTEL team was on Lap 147. Another four tires, fuel and two rounds out of the left-rear jackscrew were completed. The caution waved two more times, but crew chief Matt Borland opted to maintain track position. The plan was to make only one more stop and gamble on fuel mileage.

That's exactly what happened when the caution came out on Lap 196. Newman was running eighth, when he came in for his final stop of the day. Four tires and fuel, and the No. 12 Dodge was in it for the long haul. It was at that moment, until the final turn in the race, that Newman was warned to be very cautious and do everything possible to save fuel. The ALLTEL team knew it was going to be extremely close, and at one point thought Newman might be as much as five laps short, but they were willing to roll the dice and it paid off.

Newman's fourth-place finish vaulted him up three spots in the point standings and now sits 13th.

"There were a lot of things we could have learned about the surface and the tire interaction with the race track if we were able to get in Friday's practice and qualifying that would have carried over into today's race, but there's nothing you can do about the weather," said Newman. "I knew that we'd be okay as long as we didn't get into a mess early. My left and right front fenders were scuffed up at the beginning because things were a little tight. There wasn't any damage - just a lot of racing going on.

"We had a close call out there when the 99 and 23 got together. It really surprised me. I don't know if the 23 broke loose or what, but he totally took out the 99. I'm sure it wasn't on purpose, but we were in the right spot at the right time in that deal. We were lucky to dive low and get past that one.

"We can think we've got things turned around all we want, but the bottom line is we've got to buckle down and keep our nose to the grindstone. That'll take care of it. My car was really tight there at the end, and we were in a fuel strategy mode. We did about all we could do. We moved up a little in the standings, and we're getting closer to the top 10, so all-in-all, it was a pretty good day."

The next NASCAR Winston Cup event is at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 27. The Pennsylvania 500 is the 20th of 36 scheduled races and will take the green flag at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The event will be televised live on TNT and MRN Radio will feature live radio coverage.

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