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Monday, April 2, 2012

Ryan Newman comes from behind to win at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife
MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
 (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

MARTINSVILLE, VA - APRIL 01:  Ryan Newman, dri...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Ryan Newman added the exclamation point at the end of the Goody's Fast Relief 500 NASCAR race Sunday at Martinsville. 

It was an up and down day for Newman. It started on an up note with a decent qualifying effort. More importantly it ended even higher--with celebratory burnouts just before pulling into Victory Lane. The down side was in the middle.

Newman started the race in the third row after a decent qualifying effort. He had a fast race car that hovered in the top 10 during the first 100 laps. Then, after a caution was brought out by Kyle Busch, Newman sped down pit road, just about 2 miles per hour faster than allowed. The resulting  drive-through penalty put him back into the 21st position. He eventually went a lap down, but fought back handily. 

Newman never gives up. 

He eventually got his lap back and made his way back into the top 10. It looked like a good points day and a good finish until all hell broke loose in the last few laps. This is the point in the race where I always hold my breath. Anything can happen and usually does. 

The caution came out with a handful of laps left in the race when David Reutimann's car stopped in the middle of the track just past pit road. Reutimann was hastily and harshly criticized for not bringing the car down to pit road. No one was harder on him than he was on himself, however. He explained that he wanted to finish the race to stay in the top 35 in points. He shares the ride with Danica Patrick. Staying in the top 35 in owner points gives her an automatic starting spot in the select races she has decided to run this season in the Sprint Cup series. 

So, in what appeared to be the final restart, Newman was behind Clint Bowyer who tried to sneak past leaders Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Newman had told Crew Chief Tony Gibson before the restart that he was going for it. And that is exactly what he did. 

The two Hendrick cars had  more than 100 laps on their tires. They chose track position over pitting for fresh tires. Who can blame them? But, they knew they would be sitting ducks on the restart. From what I could see on the video,,  Bowyer, who had fresh tires was faster than Johnson and Gordon. Bowyer  came up on Gordon too fast so Bowyer swerved to the bottom. At the same time Brad Kezelowski who was faster than Johnson, ran into him. Johnson came down into Gordon's right side while Bowyer hit Gordon on the left. At about the same time Bowyer moved down to the inside, so did Newman, resulting in that tap into Bowyer. There just wasn't room for the three cars, so they all came together. 

While the three were wrecking, collecting Kezelowski in the process, with barely enough room, Newman just sneaked right past them all. 

The final restart saw a race between Newman and A.J. Almandinger. The two raced for the win, as Newman pulled ahead when it counted most. 

I am shocked at the negative comments from some race fans who felt Bowyer's and/or Newman's final maneuvers ruined the race. Say what?! 

As many times as I've watched the replay, I have to agree with Kyle Petty and Dave Despain, both of which concluded that no one did anything wrong, except perhaps for Reutimann. Put in the same position as either Bowyer or Newman, any other race car driver would have done the same thing. 

I feel positive enough about the ending to the race at Martinsville to make up for any negativity out there. The race was great! It wasn't too long; it wasn't boring; and the end was the best I've seen in a while. 

Ryan Newman and his crew deserved this win. They have fought hard. Congratulations to them.