Newman leads the most laps,
right one, too, for Dover win
By DAVID SCOTT
The Charlotte Observer
DOVER, Del. - Ryan Newman probably didn't have the strongest car in Sunday's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 at Dover International Speedway. His No. 12 Dodge wasn't even working right, after its power steering went away in the middle of the race.
Newman still had enough to win the NASCAR Winston Cup race, holding off Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and a very fast - and apparently very irritated - Tony Stewart.
Newman, who started the race from the pole, took control after a pit-road mistake cost Stewart on Lap 138. Stewart had led 67 laps and appeared to have the fastest car in the field.
But when a NASCAR official determined the right-front of Stewart's Chevrolet had skidded a few inches past his pit box and into Gordon's, he was a penalized a lap.
Stewart didn't stick around after the race to talk about what happened, but his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, did.
"If you come over the line, they tell you to stop and go back and you're OK," said Zipadelli, whose team was already frustrated after falling from second in the Winston Cup points race to 20th in the seven races preceding Dover. "I can't see from where I'm at, and the tire changer didn't say anything. We weren't over the line. We were on the line by an inch. What are you going to do? A rule is a rule."
Relegated to 32nd place but with plenty of time left, Stewart charged back. Still a lap down, he was trying to pass leader Newman when a yellow flag came out on Lap 202. Hoping Newman would recognize an unwritten - and vague - "gentlemen's agreement" that would allow him to get the lap back before getting to the start-finish line, Stewart was disappointed when Newman wouldn't honor it.
"It's all part of the sport," said Newman, who held off Stewart before they got to the start-finish. "As long as we race back to the yellow flag, it's going to be that way. You can give it to him or he can take it. He wasn't in a position to take it and I wasn't in a position to give it to him. If you get your lap back and the yellow comes out and people are locked in position, you've earned it."
Stewart showed his displeasure by nearly running Newman into the Turn 1 wall during the caution.
"I guess it's kind of typical," said Newman. "He was pretty upset and I'd be upset, too. But it was his screw-up. He had a fast race car and he would have done the same thing to me if the roles had been reversed."
Stewart, his car running as strongly as it had earlier in the race, returned to the lead lap after a restart on Lap 218. Jimmie Johnson, briefly the leader at the point, gave a very wide berth when Stewart passed him.
Newman stayed at or near the front of the pack the entire race. But things got dicey for him on Lap 220 when his power steering failed. He had to muscle the car around the track for the remainder of the race.
Newman was leading Gordon, Labonte and a rapidly closing Stewart when a Casey Mears wreck forced a caution Lap 388. On the restart six laps later, Gordon tried to get inside Newman on the front straightway, but Newman held him off.
"...I could have gone to the top," said Gordon. "It was a mistake. My car was so tight, I just slid up into him with the front end. I really couldn't get on the gas and drive by him. If I had gone to the outside, I think I may have been able to get in front of him."
That was all Newman needed, and he was pulling away from Gordon, Labonte and Stewart when the race ended.
Points leader Matt Kenseth held on to his lead with a steady, seventh-place finish Sunday as the circuit moves on to Pocono next week. He has 1,945 points, well ahead of second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1,774), who was 11th.
"I'm definitely tired," Newman said. "My back hurts, my neck hurts and my arms hurt. They probably will (Monday) and Tuesday. But it pays good money ($199,325) to win, you know?"