Ryan Newman continues dark horse run to Homestead with 3rd-place finish


Another race has gone by in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and Ryan Newman’s chances of being part of the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway continue to grow.

Newman picked up his second Top-5 of the 2014 Chase today at Martinsville Speedway, following winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon through a wild restart with five laps to go and finishing third.

With one of the three automatic bids to the Championship erased thanks to Earnhardt’s victory, Newman finds himself second behind Gordon on the Chase Grid going to the Eliminator Round’s middle race next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I’m really surprised that we made it to the end without another caution,” Newman said of the frantic run to the finish. “…We were fortunate to make it up from eighth to third there. Had a pretty good restart. Got down to the bottom when I needed to. Those guys were kind of all jumbled up.

“I got into the back of Clint [Bowyer] a little bit there. I apologize to him. But I had the 22 [Joey Logano] pushing me all the way through the corner. I don’t know there was a whole lot I could have done any different.”

Thanks to today’s outcome, at least two of the final four Championship positions will be decided on points. That could prove to be big for Newman, who remains winless but has become a fixture up front (five consecutive Top-10 finishes) at the most important stretch of the season.

“It’s played to our advantage the entire time as far as not having a win, not having bonus points [for a win],” he said. “Even if you’re 8 of 12 or 16, you’re still getting caught up, making free points that they’re giving you to be tied to the next bracket.

“It’s been to our advantage the whole entire time.  But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be from the drop of the green in Texas or from the drop of the green in Homestead. [But] it has played to our advantage mathematically, no doubt.

“We were the 16th seed coming in without a win. We’ve not won yet. We were tied for the lead in the points with four races to go. So mathematically it has played to my advantage – as [it has] others, but probably mine mostly.”

Newman had to work for this one today, though. He had climbed up to ninth when a caution came out at Lap 188.  But both himself and Gordon (who was the race leader) were tagged for speeding in the pits during the subsequent round of yellow-flag stops.

Newman took the Lap 206 restart in 31st, one spot behind Gordon. But by Lap 300, both men had rocketed back into the Top 10.

The next hundred laps saw Newman fall back outside the Top 10 with a tight-handling car but return there when adjustments in the pits paid off.

Following the brief red flag with 11 laps to go for Kyle Larson and Marcos Ambrose’s crash, Newman was called into the pits for fuel and two tires. While Tony Stewart, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and David Ragan stayed out to take over first, second, and third, Newman was fifth off of pit road – slotting in eighth for the final restart.

But the two-tire call proved huge in the end for Newman and the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team.

“The strategy of two tires there at the end worked out good for us,” Newman said. “Right number of laps with the guys that stayed out, kept the guys behind us that had four tires.

“Great team effort. I put our team in a hole when I sped on pit lane, which doesn’t happen very often. It did today. It cost us a lot of track position, same time that the 24 [Gordon] did. We come back to finish second and third together 300 laps later.”

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway