Ryan Newman gets his 3rd win
Many think Ryan Newman wasn't the best car, yet he won and clenched his third win of the season. But in this race, there were many questions. In many peoples minds if their had been more green flag racing, Tony Stewart would have run away with the race. Kevin Harvick feels disappointment when his car ran out of gas with three laps to go. Sorry, Newman said, but none of it would have made any difference. "Regardless, I think we could have stayed out in front," said Newman, who led the final 58 laps in his No. 12 Dodge to join Kurt Busch as a three-time race winner for the season. Nobody else has won more than once in the season's first 18 races. "I was pacing myself, trying to keep my distance without abusing my race car," Newman said. "It was shoulda, woulda, coulda for Tony, he just wasn't in the right place at the right time. "And I know Kevin runs really hard. But with three laps to go there's no way he was going to make up 10 car lengths and go around me unless something huge happened." Newman did have a point with all the talking he made. So far, all the races at Chicagoland have shown that track position is important. Newman had the clean air, which helped all the leaders of the race pull away from the field. Perhaps the biggest story of the day wasn't with Ryan Newman, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bobby Labonte. Going into the race Earnhardt was second in the standings, Labonte 4th. On lap 208, Earnhardt, who was driving a extremely loose racecar, spun around and backed his car into the wall, tearing the back end of his car completely off and giving him his 2nd DNF of the season. On lap 215, Bobby Labonte's Chevrolet caught fire when it backed into the wall and had its fuel cell erupt during a seven-car crash. Labonte allowed his car to roll down the banking to the apron and immediately began scrambling out of the cockpit. He squeezed out just as track safety crews arrived. "I'm fine," he said after the scary incident. "I smell like a barbecue pit, but I'm OK." Stewart, who was perhaps the favorite to win Sunday, started from the pole and led 60 of the first 80 laps. But by the time a yellow flew after Johnny Sauter's Pontiac blew a tire and spewed debris on the track, varying fuel-only, two-tire, four-tire and no-stop pit strategies had shuffled things up to the point that Stewart was back in traffic a bit and no longer in charge. "I think we had the fastest car today," Stewart said. "It was just a scenario where we got caught back in the pack and on the restarts the leaders were able to get away. Every restart we'd get a couple more positions and get closer to the front...(but) there really wasn't much we could do." Two time Chicagoland champ Kevin Harvick topped off his fuel with 69 laps to go, Harvick had gone that far last year at Chicagoland and won the race. The difference this year with Harvick was, he wasn't the race leader. He had to drive the wheels off the car instead of saving fuel and that cost him the race. Harvick got second from Waltrip on Lap 225, and on a late restart following a Casey Mears crash on Lap 234 he managed to hang closer to Newman. Whether Newman was right or not in saying it never would have happened, the point became moot when Harvick's No. 29 Chevy slowed on Lap 265. "The car started out loose and then it got tight toward the end of each run," Harvick said. "That's what happened there at the end with Ryan. I couldn't get up to him because the car was just too tight off the corners. "We thought we had the pit strategy worked to perfection. It didn't work out that way." Harvick wound up finishing 17th. Stewart who raced as hard as he could through the pack passed Jimmie Johnson with 8 laps to go and wound up 2nd. Johnson, who'd started from the rear of the field after an engine change on Friday but had worked his way into contention quickly thereafter, was third. Jeff Gordon finished 4th and by taking advantage of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 38th place finish moved back into 2nd in the Nascar Winston Cup standings. Earnhardt Jr. had been second at the beginning of Sunday's race, but he finished 38th after crashing a car that he said was "too loose to drive" and dropped to 258 points behind Kenseth. Labonte took a points hit, too, finishing 36th and falling to 327 point's back.