Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Newman bounces back at Dover

Dick Brinster Associated Press

DOVER, Del. — Ryan Newman has a plan to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup title even though the mathematics make that seem very unlikely.

“If we can finish in the top five in the last nine races, I can pretty much guarantee us a championship,” he said after winning Sunday at Dover International Speedway. “But we can’t finish 33rd, first and then 33rd.”

He certainly can’t, given the 107 points by which he trails leader Jeff Gordon with eight races remaining. Newman is playing catchup because engine failure relegated him to a 33rd-place finish a week earlier in New Hampshire.

“But this is a big step in the right direction,” Newman said of his victory Sunday in the MBNA America 400. “We’ll just do the best that we possibly can, and if we don’t deserve it then we won’t get it.”

Four-time series champion Gordon agrees with Newman’s assessment that consistency will win the title. He isn’t that concerned with wins.

“What more can you ask for than top-fives every weekend,” Gordon said. “That would do it.”

Newman’s optimism stems from the belief that practically every team will have one very bad race in the final 10.

“We’ve got to forget about today right now,” he said. “If you’re spending time celebrating, you’re not spending time working.”

Gordon finished third behind Mark Martin in the race and is one point ahead of Kurt Busch, who wound up fifth and lost the points lead when he was passed by Dale Jarrett with six laps to go.

“I thought we might have a shot at Mark,” Gordon said. “But we had nothing for Newman.”

New Hampshire winner Busch came to The Monster Mile tied for the series lead with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who fell to third in the title chase by finishing ninth. He’s 18 points behind Gordon.

Newman’s victory in the $5.4 million event was his third at Dover, where he swept the races last year.