Threes A Crowd

Ryan Newman and his ALLTEL Dodge racing team entered Sunday's 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season finale with high expectations and ample confidence, but due to circumstances beyond their control, the day did not turn out as they had hoped.

After qualifying fourth for the Ford 400 on Friday, Newman and his Matt Borland-led team were successful in coming up with a fast race setup, so fast that Newman paced both practice sessions on Saturday.

When the green flag fell here on Sunday to begin the 267-lap, 400-mile race, Newman radioed in that his car was running loose, but the team never had the opportunity to make adjustments.

Entering Turn 2 on the third lap, Newman was inside of Kurt Busch racing for fourth when Kevin Harvick drove to the inside to make it three deep. Harvick fishtailed and got into the side of Newman, which triggered a multi-car wreck and sent both Newman and Busch to the garage area. Newman's crew made extensive repairs on the front suspension and changed radiators. The No. 12 returned to action on Lap 114. The goal was to pick up as many spots in the final rundown as possible. He was sidelined again on Lap 160 by electrical problems, but returned to action. He parked it early, after completing 122 laps.

"The 29 just got loose and ran out of room underneath us and got up into me and the 97," a disappointed Newman said. "It's pretty much what everybody saw on TV. We should have been about third in the points after today, but oh well. There's always next year. We'll be back and try to win everything we can just like this season. We learned a lot this year, and we'll try to keep learning and working hard over the winter and come back strong in 2004."

Newman and crew finished 37th for the day and fell to sixth in the final 2003 Winston Cup point standings. He has 4,711 points and finished 311 points behind series champion Matt Kenseth.

The lone event remaining on the NASCAR slate for the remainder of the year is the Friday, Dec. 5 NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

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