Archive for Sunday, May 19, 2002

Auto Racing Roundup: Newman second rookie to win Winston

May 19, 2002

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— Ryan Newman survived everything thrown at him Saturday night to become just the second rookie to win NASCAR's all-star race.

Newman endured a qualifying race, two elimination rounds, a helmet being thrown at him, two restarts and a furious battle with Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win The Winston and earn the $750,000 grand prize.

"Man, I had to drive the wheels off of it to win this thing," Newman said. "It's pretty cool."

Newman, 24, joined Earnhardt as the only rookies to win the event, and Michael Waltrip as the only driver to take the title after making it into the field through the qualifying race.

Earnhardt, the 2000 winner, finished second, Matt Kenseth was third followed by Kurt Busch and rookie Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson, locked in a serious battle with Newman for Rookie of the Year honors, won the first two segments of the event and earned $100,000 in bonuses.

Newman had to win a qualifying race to even make the field at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Then he survived two rounds of cuts under the new format and shrugged off Elliott Sadler throwing his helmet at his car in an earlier round.

Newman started the 20-lap shootout in fourth place and wasted no time running down leader Tony Stewart, passing him in turn four three laps into it. Earnhardt was bumper-to-bumper with Newman over the final two laps. He could have won the race by spinning Newman out, but backed off, allowing Newman to win the race.

Leffler wins truck pole

Fountain, Colo. Jason Leffler won the pole position for today's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rocky Mountain 200 with a fast lap of 132.460 mph in qualifying Saturday.

It was the second pole this season for Leffler, driving a Team ASE Dodge. Teammate Ted Musgrave was second-fastest at 131.047 on the one-mile oval at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Mike Bliss, driving a Chevrolet, was third at 130.900.

Rain washes out Busch

Nazareth, Pa. Rain washed out qualifying Saturday for the NASCAR Busch series Stacker2 200, giving points leader Jack Sprague the pole for today's race at Nazareth Speedway. The rainout was the third in the last four Busch events, with Sprague starting his Chevrolet from the pole in each race.

Jason Keller will start second in a Ford, followed by Randy LaJoie, Scott Riggs, Mike McLaughlin, Kenny Wallace, defending race champion Greg Biffle, Jay Sauter, Stacy Compton and Bobby Hamilton Jr., who won for the first time last week in Loudon, N.H.

Final Indy qualifying looms

Indianapolis Ready or not, the last chance to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 is here. With nine of the 33 starting spots still unfilled for the race May 26, 16 non-qualified drivers worked at building speed Saturday, the last full day of practice before the third and final round of time trials. Winds gusting to 26 mph and temperatures in the low 50s made Saturday another tough day. Today's forecast called for highs in the upper-50s, winds at 5-10 mph and a 30-percent chance of afternoon rain.

Dixon top qualifier

Englishtown, N.J. Larry Dixon continued his impressive performance in Top Fuel by earning the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday for the NHRA's Matco Tools SuperNationals. Tony Pedregon (Funny Car), Jim Yates (Pro Stock) and Angelle Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also took top spots for final eliminations today.

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