Newman returns to scene of his first of seven victories
Friday, September 12, 2003
LOUDON, N.H. -- New Hampshire International Speedway will always hold a special place in Ryan Newman's heart.
His first Winston Cup victory came here last September, when the top rookie of 2002 dominated the race on the 1.058-mile oval.
Not even rain that cut the event 93 laps short could dampen Newman's excitement after he started from the pole and led 147 of the 207 laps run.
"This time last year I was winning my first Winston Cup race, and I was excited and relieved at the same time," said Newman, who had gone winless in his first 34 races in NASCAR's top stock car series.
"We went out and fired off a really good lap and won the pole," he said. "To me, that made it that much sweeter for my first win."
That was just the beginning.
The 25-year-old racer has added six more victories this year, including last Saturday at Richmond.
"Every win since has had a different feeling when I pulled into Victory Lane," Newman said. "I thought Dover was my best race because it was done with no power steering. Chicago and Pocono were won because of team strategy.
"Michigan was won on fuel, also, but it was nice to come back after enduring a fire like I had there in June. Bottom line is winning is just awesome no matter how you do it."
After getting off to a slow start this season with mechanical failures and a couple of frightening crashes -- including the fiery one at Michigan -- Newman has turned it around.
He goes into Sunday's Sylvania 300 at NHIS sixth in the standings.
Since finishing 39th at Richmond in May and falling to 27th in points, the Penske Racing South driver has five wins in 15 starts. He has nine top-five finishes in that span, 11 top-10 finishes.
"Ryan gets in that Dodge each week with the mind-set that he can win the race and will do everything in his power to take the checkered flag," said Don Miller, president of the Penske stock car team.
"Just look at what Ryan has accomplished since last year. It's only going to get sweeter."
In four starts at New Hampshire, Newman has not finished worse than 15th. His last three races here have produced finishes of fifth, first and, in a race this season, fourth.
Around the area
Fredericktown (Mo.) Raceway will conclude its season with a regular Friday night event and a Saturday event for modifieds and hobby stocks. Season championships remain up for grabs in three of the five classes, including hobby stocks, modifieds and late models. Theran Pearl has clinched the pure street title, and Dave Wofford has sealed the mini stock title.
Greg Casey of Sikeston has a lock on Auto Tire and Parts Racepark's pure stock title, but others are up for grabs in the track's final points event of the season Saturday. It's a double point night in each class.
-- Staff and wire reports