Sunday, September 7, 2003

Newman survives late restarts; captures sixth win

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. - Ryan Newman dominated a late long run and then held on through three restarts - the last with four laps to go - and won Saturday night Richmond International Raceway.

Newman, whose crew said he might not have enough fuel to finish under the long green flag run that started with 77 laps to go, got a break when Robby Gordon crashed with 19 laps to go, causing a seven-lap caution in the Chevrolet 400.

He appeared to be pulling away from Kevin Harvick when the race went back to green with 14 laps to go, but he lost that edge when debris on the track caused the yellow to fly to the 12th time, setting up the nine-lap finish.

Again Newman was pulling away, but Ricky Rudd, running third, nudged Harvick on the front stretch, sending Harvick slamming in the turn one wall and bringing out one more yellow, giving Newman four laps to hold on.

On the single-file restart, Newman's Dodge pulled away from that of Jeremy Mayfield's Dodge and went on to his series-high sixth victory this year.

Rudd finished third in a Ford, followed by Jeff Burton and Rusty Wallace.

Afterward, Rudd and Harvick parked side by side on pit road and crew members gathered. The drivers exchanged words but were kept apart.

"This stuff after the race is kind of ridiculous," Rudd said after climbing from his car, claiming that Harvick seemed to be having a problem with his car before the crash and that he tried to avoid him.

Harvick, who wound up 16th, didn't see it that way, contending Rudd hit intentionally.

"If he's going to take a cheap shot at us, he's going to get one back," Harvick fumed.

Harvick had finished second three weeks in a row.

The night turned out well for points leader Matt Kenseth.

He extended his points lead to 418 over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 441 over Harvick with 10 races remaining, a nearly insurmountable advantage if his consistency continues. It was his 20th top-10 run in 26 races.

Earnhardt, running third with 46 laps to go, suddenly slid up the track in the second turn, saved the car but immediately went to his pit.

IRL: Richie Hearn expected to be in California this weekend, doing a six-hour, go-kart endurance race with his father and a bunch of buddies.

No offense to them, but he's much happier being where he is.

Just 10 days after Team Menard hired him for the IRL's Delphi Indy 300, Hearn won the pole Saturday in record time. His lap at 223.159 mph was the fastest ever in qualifying at the Chicagoland Speedway.

"It's real easy to get down on yourself when you're sitting at home, watching all these races on TV," Hearn said. "This kind of helps me remind myself I can drive a race car. Hopefully I'll get more chances."

Tomas Scheckter will join Hearn on the front row today, qualifying at 223.083.

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Newman survives late restarts; captures sixth win

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