Opponents question Newman's fuel mileage
By Lee Montgomery, Turner Sports Interactive
Monday, October 06, 2003
Banquet 400: Results | Winston Cup Standings | Photos
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- No one would come out and say Ryan Newman has been cheating on
fuel mileage, but it wasn't hard to read between the lines.
Newman went the final 117
miles of the Banquet 400 at
Kansas Speedway on one
tank of fuel. He held off Bill
Elliott to win his eighth race of the season, and
it wasn't the first time Newman won on fuel
Ever since the first guy to win a race on fuel
mileage, folks have questioned the legality -- or
lack thereof -- of the winner's fuel system.
There's gotta be hidden lines, cynics
suggested. Or the fuel tank is bigger than it
should be, they whispered.
And now, the whispers are about Ryan
Newman. On Saturday at Kansas, no one less
than Jeff Gordon hinted that Newman was
doing something, well, doing SOMETHING
After Sunday's race, Gordon wasn't alone.
"I'm going to start buying fuel at their house," Tony Stewart said.
Kevin Harvick was a little more direct.
"I'm just pissed off that the 15th-place car wins the race and can go 15 laps farther on fuel than the rest of us,"
Harvick said. "If he can do that with his foot, then he's a magician, and I'll kiss his ass if he's doing it with his foot."
But there's more. Jeremy Mayfield, who also stretched his fuel mileage to finish third, said Newman's team was
"When you make the horsepower that they're making and burning the fuel that everybody's burning, then you've
either got more fuel or you're really good at saving fuel," Mayfield said.
"I don't know how they're doing it. We just barely made it through. At the end of the race, we were saving all of the
fuel that we could just to make it to the end. He was sitting there doing burnouts on the frontstretch. I don't know if
we could do that or not."
Mayfield was later asked if a smaller fuel cell would help eliminate fuel-mileage races. Instead of simply answering
the question, he dragged Newman into it.
"If you run 30 laps on 10 gallons, he'd probably run 45 or 50," Mayfield said. "I don't think the solution is going to a
smaller cell. It's probably figuring out how they're doing it. You've got to have so much fuel in there to make so much
horsepower. They're certainly not giving up horsepower. I think you can see that."
But Newman and crew chief Matt Borland said it's simply a matter of their Penske Racing engine builders being able
to construct engines with good horsepower and good fuel mileage. And they repeatedly said they don't cheat.
"No, we just beat 'em," Newman said. "I can tell you first-hand we're not cheating. We don't cheat. They can take
what they want, they can say what they want."
Newman was asked if he found it interesting that Gordon was one of the ones hinting that Newman cheats, and he
responded with a terse, "No."
Borland said Gordon was accused of cheating when he was winning all those races and championships a few
"It didn't stop people then from saying that, and it doesn't stop them now," Borland said.
"We don't cheat, we've never cheated," Borland said. "We've probably had our car torn down more than anyone
else. With the way Ryan qualifies and the top-fives we've had, we're torn down every week. We've never done
anything and we never plan to."
Sunday, Newman said luck had as much to do with is victory than anything because he was able to run several
caution laps, which helped save fuel.
And Borland cited some other times when Newman did run out of gas, like at Indianapolis.
Still, the criticism came anyway. Sour grapes, Newman said.
"It's hard when you're criticized for doing good," Newman said. "It's hard to have a smart answer for a dumb
question. When you get told comments by other drivers, it's hard to put some of that stuff behind you. It's hard to be
unwitty, I guess, about it."
Updated on Tuesday, Oct 7, 2003 12:02 pm EDT
I, for one, am getting tired of seeing him win on fuel mileage and not racing hard for the win. also, why is it a fuel milage thing all of a sudden? most races never had that type of crappy finish, they all had plenty of gas and raced for those wins.