Newman On Right Track

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Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, has the most impressive history at Kansas Speedway of all the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers. As the team continues to move forward in the series' point standings, this weekend's race in Kansas could be what it needs to break into the top-three.

"Kansas has always been a great track for the ALLTEL team," Newman said. "If you look at our statistics, I don't see how I could say anything but good things about it. It's like the team just instantly clicked with the track."

Newman's first appearance at the 1.5-mile oval was only his sixth NASCAR Cup Series start. Newman charged from a 17th-place starting position, to a second-place finish. The finish was a career-high for the then 23-year-old driver, and the second top-five of his career.

He returned to Kansas in his rookie season aiming to improve his prior runner-up finish. After qualifying third, Newman jumped to the front and led 81 laps before once again finishing second to Jeff Gordon.

The third time was the charm, however, as Newman and the ALLTEL team broke their streak of seconds and earned their first victory at the speedway in 2003. Newman outlasted the competition with fuel mileage to earn his eighth victory of the 2003 season.

The three top-two finishes add up to an amazing 1.67 average finish, the best of all drivers. In fact, Newman and Gordon are the only two drivers who have earned top-five finishes in all three of the Kansas races.

"If history continues to repeat itself, we should be right there challenging for the win," Newman continued. "The ALLTEL team is experiencing a resurgence of sorts right now. I said at Loudon that everyone would see an entirely new team in these last 10 races and that's been true so far. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We're going after the championship every way we know how."

Newman and the ALLTEL team have two victories under their belt this season, as well as five poles. Newman leads all active drivers with an 8.62 average start this season. He and Gordon also lead all active drivers with 19 top-10 starts.

With seven races remaining in the "Chase for the Championship," Newman is in seventh place, 146 points behind series' point leader, Kurt Busch. Newman is only nine points out of fifth. Last season, Newman scored eight top-10 finishes in the last 10 races, including one victory at Kansas Speedway.

The Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway will air live on NBC beginning at 1:30 p.m., EDT, and also on MRN Radio at 12:30 p.m., EDT.

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