Return To Magical Michigan

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, has fond memories of racing at Michigan International Speedway. Several career milestones have been met at the speedway, and with its close vicinity to South Bend, Ind, Michigan feels somewhat like home for the SPEED Channel Driver of the Year.

"I like Michigan more every time I race there," Newman said. "This track is kind of like a home track to me, not only because it's so close to where I grew up, but also because it seems like I got my start in racing here. I cut my teeth, so to speak, at Michigan in an ARCA car, then won my first Busch race there too. Winning last year's Cup race there just topped it off for us. It's somewhat sentimental for me."

Newman made his first-ever career start at the 2-mile oval in 2000. The race was Newman's first of his A-B-C schedule, and his first time to prove the talent that the ALLTEL team possessed. After qualifying second, Newman went on to finish seventh. The next weekend at Pocono, he won.

The following year, still running the A-B-C schedule, Newman returned to MIS for a NASCAR Busch Series event. The young driver won the event, scoring his first, and only, career NBS victory.

The success continued at MIS in the NASCAR Cup Series, as Newman, in his fifth career NASCAR Nextel Cup Series start at the track, won the GFS Marketplace 400. The victory was his first career Cup victory at the speedway, and his fifth, of eight, in the 2003 season.

While MIS remains one of 11 NNCS tracks where Newman has yet to win a pole position, Newman has a successful qualifying record at the speedway. Newman has qualified in the top 10 in his last four appearances at MIS. In his first NNCS race at MIS, Newman qualified 12th, his only start outside of the top 10.

Newman leads all active drivers with an average start of 7.4 at MIS. He also leads all active drivers with an average start of 6.64 thus far in the 2004 season.

While the ALLTEL team has experienced success at Michigan, it knows that winning won't come easy this Sunday. With the competition growing stronger, every detail has to be perfect to drive into victory lane on any given Sunday. This weekend, it will take perfection as well.

"Michigan is a great race track. It reminds me a lot of California," Newman said. "The track is real smooth and fast, making it very hard on engines. Fuel-mileage tends to come into play and actually, the track gets fast enough on the straightaways where drafting can become key too. There's so much to think about at Michigan, from the set-up to strategy, it all makes it a fun track to race at."

The DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway will air live on FOX at 1 p.m. EDT. MRN Radio also will cover the event beginning at 1:00 p.m., EDT.

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