Newman Dialed In At Darlington

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Ryan Newman and the No. 12 ALLTEL team finished third at Darlington Raceway Sunday to post the team's second consecutive top-five finish. Newman and the team moved to ninth in the series' point standings, only 106 points out of the lead.

"We had an awesome car on the long runs," Newman said. "The ALLTEL Dodge was really awesome on the longer runs, but we just didn't have enough laps. We came a long way, from a lap down to 11 seconds behind back to third behind the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and 18 (Bobby Labonte). I think we had a car capable of winning, but it just didn't work out today.

"We finally got to the top 10 in points. It's nothing huge it's so early in the season, but we're happy to be where we are at this point. Compared to where we've been in previous seasons. we feel good about it."

Newman started sixth and moved into the lead for the first time on lap 36 after two pit stops to loosen the handling of the car. He held the lead for 20 laps before the third caution of the race brought him back onto pit road.

The team made adjustments to re-tighten the handling of the car, and Newman rejoined the field in fourth place.

Newman regained the lead on lap 104. Twenty laps later the team made its first green-flag pit stop. After sending Newman back out in the sixth position, NASCAR penalized him for hitting the commitment cone as he had entered pit road, forcing him to make a pass-through of pit road. The penalty was costly, as the ALLTEL team dropped to 31st, a lap and a half behind the leader.

Newman prominently displayed his driving talent as he maneuvered his way through the field. When the fourth caution occurred on lap 148, Newman was in 24th position, still one-lap down. The team completed a four-tire stop in an amazing 12.66 seconds to put Newman in 19th.

Newman ran with the lead-lap cars, and when the next caution period occurred, he became the "Lucky Dog" and moved to the end of the longest line. This began Newman's second charge through the field. After restarting the event in 18th on lap 169, Newman broke into the top 10 on lap 190 and back into the top five on lap 215.

With only 60 laps to go, Newman entered pit road for the eighth time. This time he exited in ninth place. The deficit took away the "clean air" and caused the car to grow increasingly tight. He managed to pass four cars before the next caution on lap 275. The team gained another position on pit road to move Newman into fourth.

The final restart created a four-lap shootout for the win. With two laps remaining, Newman passed Robby Gordon to claim third.

"I think our car was the best on the long runs," Newman said. "We needed 15 or 20 more laps. We would have been all right without that last caution. I don't' know if we would have ended up third or second or what, but we were catching them pretty quick."

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