Newman Wins Busch Race At Watkin's Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -- Ryan Newman won a three-lap dash to the finish Saturday, holding off hard-charging Robby Gordon to win the Busch Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.
Brian Vickers was third, followed by polesitter Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr., who boosted his series lead to 122 points over Clint Bowyer, who finished 15th.
Nineteen-year-old rookie Reed Sorenson remained third in the points but fell 219 points behind. He suffered a big blow to his title chances when his engine blew at the midway point of the race, leading to a 41st-place finish.
"We accomplished a goal," said Truex, who won the other road course race in Mexico early in the year. "We stayed on the road all day."
It was the first Busch series race at Watkins Glen since Canadian road race star Ron Fellows won in 2001, and the last two of the seven cautions in the race made for a scintillating finish.
Vickers, on a one-stop pit strategy, restarted fourth on lap 51 behind leader Jeff Burton, Travis Kvapil, and Tyler Walker.
Vickers passed Burton for the lead going into turn 1 on lap 66 of the 82-lap road race and built a 10-car-length lead. But three laps later Newman and Stewart passed Burton and began stalking the leader. Newman made the pass on Vickers with a daring move on the outside of turn 11, a right-hander, and hung on down the straightaway past the start-finish line to gain the lead at the tail end of lap 74.
"I was kind of running my own race," said Newman, who ran out of gas on the cooldown lap. "I'd catch Brian and lose him, but he got loose in 10 and lost momentum, and I just was able to capitalize. I stuck to the outside because he was trying to block. I thought he was running out of gas. I just kept my line, and that's all it took."
"I started to burn the back tires off the car," Vickers said. "I started wheel-hopping it. It's just my inexperiencne on road courses. I just made a mistake there, and it cost us a lot."
A crash seconds later brought out the seventh caution and bunched the cars for the final three laps.
Gordon, who was quick all day, had fought back from 25th to sixth for the restart. He quickly passed Truex and Burton once the green flag waved, then dove past Stewart and Vickers on the final lap but simply ran out of time.
"Probably two more corners and we would have got him," said Gordon, who started third and led 11 laps. "We had the fastest car all day. We stuck to our strategy. We only got six laps of practice, and we didn't have a good fuel mileage number."
Newman beat Gordon to the line by 0.846 seconds for the first road course victory of his career and only his second Busch triumph.
Stewart, who broke the track record in qualifying, stayed near the front for much of the race but was unable to mount a challenge at the end. Afterward, he rammed Vickers but nothing more ensued.
"I got drove across the nose twice, so I figured I had to give somebody back," said Stewart, who also will start from the pole for the Cup race on Sunday. "It was a pretty good day. When the temperature cooled off, we got a little tight. Robby was fast at the end, there was nothing we could do."
The race began two hours late and under caution because of rain, which washed out Nextel Cup qualifying. The first 16 laps were run under caution as crews worked to dry a trouble spot near the ninth turn on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn layout.
That prompted a fuel strategy gamble by several teams. Stewart led a pack of cars into the pits for gas on lap 18 after Gordon, who was leading, passed the entrance to pit road.
"I kind of expected a lot of guys to do that and get that stop out of the way," said Vickers, who only pitted at the midway point of the race. "It made sense, but it was a one-stop race for us.
"We gambled on the fuel. I guess you could say it paid off, but it cost us a little at the end."