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Stewart-Haas takes 1-2 at New Hampshire
17 July 2011
Ryan Newman won the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 after starting from pole position, with his team mate and car owner Tony Stewart also finishing in second place in a perfect Cup weekend for Stewart-Haas.
The two had started in the same positions on the grid, making it the first time since Pocono in June 2006 that the top two qualifiers have finished in the same positions in a Cup race.
“Man, this one hell of a perfect weekend for Stewart-Haas Racing!" said a thrilled Stewart after the finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. "I'm so damn proud I can't see straight. I'm proud of my buddy there standing on top of his car. He deserved it. He did an awesome job this weekend."
A wide variety of pit stop strategies during the race culminated in Newman leading out of the final pit stops and managing to make his fuel last for 64 laps to the chequered flag. Denny Hamlin, chasing the Stewart-Haas duo in the final stint, found his crew chief "screaming that we've got to back off" to save fuel and had to throttle back and settle for third place.
"We backed up what everybody said we couldn't back up, and that was our qualifying effort on Friday ... We knew we were capable of it," said an emotional Newman as he dedicated the win by the #39 US Army Chevrolet to the military, friends and relatives. "We were so close so many times this year."
Stewart gave special credit to his ill crew chief, Darian Grubb. "They told him yesterday he's got pneumonia," Stewart said. "He's battling through a weekend like this, never missed a beat on the box today."
Newman led the most laps of anyone - 119 of the race total of 301 - on his way to his 15th Cup win in 351 starts ending a 47-race winless streak. He's the 13th different winner in the 19 races so far in the 2011 season. It's Newman and Stewart's first 1-2 in their three seasons together as team mates since the inception of Stewart-Haas.
"One hell of a day boys. One hell of a day!" summarised Stewart as his team's 2011 season finally burst back to life after a tough recent few months. It puts Newman up to eighth place in the Cup points, although Stewart himself is still outside the top ten Chase qualifiers in eleventh.
It was a less successful afternoon for Kyle Busch, who came into the race with the Cup points lead and arguably the fastest car on the track, but who suffered a cut tyre on lap 59 that sent him into the wall. He rejoined after repairs but could only manage to finish in 36th place, 77 laps down, and he falls back to fifth in the Cup championship points standings as a result.
It was also a thankless day for Kevin Harvick who forlornly tweeted after the race "I don't even need to say anything...looking forward to a week off to regroup and take a break from the world..." Harvick finished in 21st place and drops to fourth place in the Cup points, while Carl Edwards regains the lead despite only finishing in 13th place.
Jimmie Johnson did the best of the top Chase contenders with fifth place despite hitting the wall and also picking up a penalty for a missing lugnut following late pit stops. Jeff Gordon also staged a remarkable comeback after suffering battery problems mid-race and going a lap off the lead to have it replaced, but who bounced back impressively to fourth before a late blown tyre demoted him back down to eleventh in the final results.
The race saw ten cautions in all, with spins for Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers, and four cautions for debris, although the last 60 laps went caution-free just as many teams were relying on yellow flags to make their fuel stretch to the end.Full race results
Full Sprint Cup points standings