Facebook Twitter

Newman sweeps at Dover

SHARE Newman sweeps at Dover

DOVER, Del. — Ryan Newman held his position when asked if victory softened his dislike for NASCAR's ban on racing back to the flag stand under caution.

After he lost two laps Sunday, Newman was the beneficiary of the new rule that gives a lap to the highest-scored car not on the lead lap. The rule helped him win Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

"I still believe what I said," Newman explained. "We dealt with what rules we had to play with today, and that won us the game."

After overcoming the deficit created by a flat tire, he fought his way back, got his one-lap gift and then gambled on fuel. The result was a sweep of this year's races at The Monster Mile.

Newman went the final 106 laps without stopping and earned his seventh win this season. He also benefited from two late caution flags that slowed the field for 12 laps, allowing him to save gas.

Crew chief Matt Borland knew the yellow flags would be necessary for Newman to go the distance, and he got them.

"We really didn't have anything to lose at that point," Borland said of the fuel strategy.

Still, it bothered Newman that the gift was a contributing factor.

"I just don't want to see guys get their lap back and not earn it," he said. "Once we got our lap back, it was just sort of a fuel mileage race."

This was the first Winston Cup event in history in which racing back to the flag stand under caution was prohibited. NASCAR outlawed the practice after Dale Jarrett's wrecked car sat precariously in the middle of the track as others attempted to unlap themselves or improve their positions a week earlier in New Hampshire.

Newman regained the second lap by staying on the track on lap 328. Then, on old tires, he held off hard-charging Jeremy Mayfield, who harassed him for 10 laps until Newman opened a five-car-length lead with 15 laps to go.

"It looked like he was running higher tire pressures than us," Newman said. "For the first couple of laps he was just flat fast and got right up on me. That made him faster for the first little bit, and obviously that cost him later in the run."

"He raced very clean," Newman said of Mayfield. "I felt I used up everything in my car."

Mayfield reached the rear deck of Newman's car and got inside twice, but was unable to hold the low line and eventually faded.

"I was not blocking him, but taking up everything in my line," Newman said. "The car was awesome until we got that flat tire."

It came on the 46th lap, giving Newman 354 to recover.

"We just kept trying to get the balance back and finally did there at the end," he said.

Mayfield was satisfied to match his best finish this season.

"The motor ran good all day," said Mayfield, winless since 2000. "It's the best car I ever had here."

Car owner Ray Evernham has spent much of this season denying that Mayfield will be fired, and the driver addressed that.

"You hear a lot of rumors, but whoever tears this race team apart is crazy," he said.

Newman's victory in the $4.6 million MBNA America 400 came 3 1/2 months after his first career win at Dover. Newman, the only Winston Cup driver with more than four wins this year, now has eight in his career.

Series leader Matt Kenseth finished ninth after starting from the pole, and increased his points advantage to a season-high lead of 436 over Kevin Harvick after 28 of 36 races. Kenseth was awarded the pole on the basis of car-owner points when NASCAR canceled qualifying last week because of Hurricane Isabel.

It was the second straight sweep on the high-banked concrete oval, where Jimmie Johnson won twice last year. It was the ninth sweep since the track went to two races in 1971.

Todd Bodine was the first beneficiary of the rule change, getting a free pass after Joe Nemechek brought out a caution by blowing a tire and hitting the wall on the 79th lap. The race continued under caution for 28 minutes while the wall was repaired.

The winner led 106 of 400 laps, his Dodge beating that of Mayfield by 1.152 seconds. Newman averaged 108.802 mph in a race slowed for 63 laps by seven cautions. There were 13 lead changes among seven drivers.

Tony Stewart was third in a Chevrolet, followed by those of Harvick and Jeff Gordon.

Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle and Johnson were next. After Kenseth came Rusty Wallace.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun out and hit the wall in turn two on lap 364. He was taken to Bayhealth Medical Center for evaluation, examined and released. A NASCAR spokesman said Earnhardt had a bruised right foot and a slight concussion.