After sweeping the front row (Newman-first, Stewart-second) for Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing completed the race 1-2, just as they started. Ryan Newman held off Tony Stewart, his boss and teammate, to win his first race of the season Sunday and make it a 1-2 start and finish for Stewart-Haas Racing. ”This is huge for our team, even bigger for our organization,” Newman said.
“We backed up what everybody said we couldn’t back up, and that was our qualifying effort on Friday,” Newman said. “We put it on ‘em today. We don’t put it on ‘em every weekend, so we need to relish this moment and figure out what we did right so we can keep doing it.”
Stewart reassured the media afterwards that he held nothing back. “I can promise you, I didn’t leave anything out there. That was as hard as I could run till the end. I couldn’t get the rest of the way. I couldn’t get any further than that.
This was the first win for Newman since April of 2010 in Phoenix and Stewart earned only his second top-five this season. Stewart joked that he asked for just one day where something didn’t go wrong with the race teams. Today was “that” day Stewart had been hoping for in quite some time.
Newman’s final pit stop took place on lap 217 of 301, giving him track position when the majority of the field hit pit road nine laps later. Among those that hit pit road on lap 226 was Stewart, forcing him to push through. He choked up after taking the checkered flag as he dedicated the victory to the military and a close friend who died of cancer. There was a catch in his voice as he talked about the friend who died in April.
Newman carried the burden of not only winning for his fans, but for his sponsor US Army, as well as team owner Tony Stewart. When asked what Newman thought about Stewart closing in on him during the final laps, “He was the one I didn’t mind seeing in my mirror,” Newman said. Newman’s major concern was stretching his fuel tank over the long, sweeping corners to the end. Crew chief Tony Gibson warned him several times he was running low and to conserve gas. ”I didn’t think he was going to make it,” Gibson said.
Denny Hamlin rallied after a spin on lap 172 to score a third place finish. Hamlin’s teammate Joey Logano finished in fourth with Jimmie Johnson in fifth. Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10.
Kyle Busch, who was the points leader coming into Sunday’s race, finished 36th after blowing a tire (melted bead) and slamming the outside wall in turn 2. Busch is now fifth in the points standings, 20 points back from leader Carl Edwards.
And now the Brickyard 400 is approaching fast and everyone is still in the hunt for the final 12 spots to make the chase! I believe we are going to see one wild race this weekend on ESPN. Will Stewart kiss the bricks or will someone who hasn’t had the chance to kiss the bricks take it this weekend?