NHMS Notebook

Newman’s magic needs few modifiers

By Nicole Auerbach
Globe Correspondent / July 17, 2011

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LOUDON, N.H. - Maybe New Hampshire Motor Speedway should reserve the use of the term “Magic Mile’’ for Ryan Newman, because nobody else has the kind of success he has on this track.

Yesterday, Newman won his third consecutive F.W. Webb 100 on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, his fourth straight victory on the circuit. It came a day after he won the pole for today’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup Series race with a track-record qualifying time.

Add that to Newman’s two Cup victories at NHMS and his record-five poles for Cup events, and, well, “magical’’ might be only word to use to describe Newman’s relationship with the track.

“This is the place [I got] my first win,’’ Newman said. “It’s always been good up here, it seems. We’d like to keep that cycle going.

“It gives us a little bit of confidence and a great attitude going into [today’s Cup race].’’

Newman’s competitors in the F.W. Webb 100 knew Newman’s NHMS history, but they didn’t think it means he’s guaranteed to win every race.

“He’s definitely beatable,’’ said Todd Szegedy, who finished second. “We’ve beaten him before. They’ve got a good car underneath him. He understands the cars now. Anybody’s beatable - I don’t care if they’re Superman.’’

Szegedy said he considered second place “sort of a win,’’ because he beat all the regular Modified Tour drivers. Ron Silk finished third.

Newman led for 61 of the 100 laps. He passed Silk on Lap 84 and beat Szegedy by 1.901 seconds.

The race itself was a bit unusual, because it didn’t feature a caution flag after the 12th lap. Drivers raced the final 88 laps without pit stops.

“We really can’t attribute why they were no cautions,’’ said Newman’s crew chief, Kevin Manion, who also serves as Jamie McMurray’s crew chief in the Cup Series. “It was very hot out and slick. You’d figure maybe you would get some cautions, and there wasn’t.’’

Said Silk: “I was surprised how long it went green, I’m sure everybody was.’’

When asked about fuel worries, Silk said he had none because he doesn’t have a fuel gauge in his car.

“We were concerned a little bit,’’ Szegedy said. “I kept watching the fuel gauge every now and then. That’s the best we can do. But, you know, what are you going to do? Pull off?’’

Former two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree was supposed to make his Modified debut in his own No. 5 yesterday, but he wrecked his car during practice yesterday morning and did not compete.

Stewart rolling Tony Stewart recorded the fastest time during yesterday morning’s NASCAR Sprint Cup practice with a lap of 29.487 seconds.

Steward edged Clint Bowyer by 0.003 seconds in the second practice of the weekend.

Bowyer won the Sylvania 300 at NHMS last fall before his car failed a postrace inspection. Bowyer faced a $150,000 fine (later reduced to $100,000 after appeal) and lost 150 championship points - which knocked him out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

In yesterday’s final practice, Jimmie Johnson led all drivers with a fast lap of 29.391 seconds.

With the big boys Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished fourth, best among Nationwide series regulars in the New England 200 . . . Carl Edwards went 56 laps before pulling out with a broken valve . . . Aric Almirola was the fastest qualifier among Nationwide regulars, fourth overall, for the New England 200 with a time of 29.711 seconds. He finished fifth . . . NHMS officials expect a near-capacity crowd for today’s Cup race. As of 11 a.m. yesterday, officials said about 2,000 tickets remained available.