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Archive for Monday, July 28, 2003

Newman holds off Busch to win Pennsylvania 500

July 28, 2003

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— Ryan Newman earned a degree in engineering solving problems not a whole lot different from the assignment he was handed Sunday.

Be conservative, but don't give up the lead, crew chief Matt Borland told him.

"Those two things are contradictory and hard to do," Newman said. "I was doing the best I could to save some fuel and yet, at the same time, stay out front."

He proved the value of his Purdue education and pulled it off. Late caution flags helped Newman stretch his gas to the end, allowing him to barely hold off hard-charging Kurt Busch and win at Pocono Raceway.

Newman was asked to go the final 46 laps without stopping.

"Those cautions played to our favor for sure," Newman said. "I think in hindsight we wouldn't have been able to make it if we hadn't had those cautions."

The turning point in his victory was crashes involving rookie Casey Mears and Bobby Labonte that slowed the field for a total of 12 laps in the Pennsylvania 500.

Newman used the same strategy to win two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway, and Jimmie Johnson won with a fuel-economy run July 20 in New Hampshire.

Newman wasn't thinking entirely about fuel as Busch made a determined bid after the race went green for the final 12 laps.

Busch never let up in a battle between the biggest winners this season on the Winston Cup circuit.

"It was a great day," Busch said. "But he was in position to win."

Newman parlayed his series-leading fifth pole of the year into his fourth victory. He and Busch came into the race leading the circuit with three wins apiece.

Newman's Dodge beat the Ford of Busch by .307 seconds -- about six car-lengths --to take the $4.2 million event. He led 88 of 200 laps in just his fourth Cup race on the 21/2-mile triangular track.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. also played the fuel card and lasted to finish third in his Chevrolet, followed by teammate Michael Waltrip and the Chevy of two-time Pocono winner Terry Labonte.

Earnhardt moved into second place in the standings, passing Jeff Gordon, who was spun out by Dave Blaney on the 124th lap. Four-time series champion Gordon wound up 36th and fell to third in the points.

Points leader Matt Kenseth, among those who made late gas stops, finished 13th. He leads Earnhardt by 232 points and Gordon by 308 after 20 of 36 races.

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Tracy Vancouver victor: Paul Tracy, the only driver ever banned from a race by CART and on probation several times in his career, bounced back from another dispute in his rocky relationship with series officials by turning the Vancouver Molson Indy into a rout at Vancouver, British Columbia.

The victory -- his fifth in 11 races this season -- stretched his lead from 15 points to 20 over runner-up Bruno Junqueira in Tracy's quest for his first Champ Car title.

CART stripped Tracy of the provisional pole after he blocked other cars during qualifying. But he bounced back to win the pole Saturday.

Junqueira, who was awarded the provisional pole and the one championship point that goes with it, started next to Tracy on the front row.

Junqueira then took the lead when the green flag came out. He stayed out front until the 24th lap, but had to give up the lead when CART ruled Junqueira had jumped the start. He was forced to let Tracy's No. 3 Player's/Forsythe Racing Lola go past.

Rookie Sebastien Bourdais finished third, despite being involved in two incidents, and Michel Jourdain was fourth, the last car on the lead lap. Fifth-place Darren Manning, another rookie, was two laps down.

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Taylor wins at Michigan: Rookie Mark Taylor won the Michigan 100 at Brooklyn, Mich., and set Infiniti Pro Series records with his third straight win and fifth victory of the season. Jeff Simmons was the runner-up, tying his best finish. Thiago Medeiros was third and Aaron Fike fourth.

Brandon Erwin was released from a hospital without injuries after he crashed on the seventh lap and was taken from the track by helicopter.

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Force wins second straight: John Force won his second straight Funny Car race at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash. Force won at Bandimere Speedway last weekend and will try to win the three-race Western Swing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. He beat Whit Bazemore in the Funny Car final Sunday for his 108th career victory, covering the quarter mile in 5.036 seconds at 300.80 mph in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang.

Larry Dixon and Greg Anderson also were winners in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race.

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Dokken released from hospital: Michael Dokken was released from a hospital Sunday night after breaking a bone at the base of his skull during a practice session in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series at Ann Arbor, Mich.

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