There isn't much Ryan Newman can't do, and he made that point loud and clear Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, winning the E-Z-GO 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race in his first series start.
"I'm not sure if I should just retire now," Newman deadpanned in the post-race interviews.
Newman held off a last-lap challenge from his Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate and veteran Ron Hornaday Jr., who gained ground on his bid for a fourth series title. Newman passed Hornaday with eight laps remaining, but Hornaday stormed back to retake the lead with one to go. The two were side-by-side through turns one and two before Newman finally pulled away for the win.
"He raced me clean," Newman said. "He left me room; he could have pinched me off twice, but he raced me like a gentleman. Obviously he's racing for a championship and I'm well aware of that too."
After finishing second for the third straight Craftsman Truck race at AMS, Hornaday was disappointed about not winning, but happy to have cut Johnny Benson's series points lead. Hornaday trails Benson by 31 points with three races remaining.
"Second stinks," Hornaday said. "I just missed the corner off two, and he ran me down and got the momentum. He came and stole my thunder these last couple laps."
Newman has been historically good at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, especially in qualifying, sharing the track record for pole positions (seven) with NASCAR legend Buddy Baker. But he's never won a race at the fast track, making Saturday's race even more memorable.
"This is the first time for me in Atlanta (in Victory Lane), so that was special in itself," Newman said. "(Today) was a lot of fun. But AMS is a lot of fun too; it upped it one level on the fun meter."
Kyle Busch, an early favorite after winning in all three previous NCTS starts at AMS, didn't take tires during pit stops following a lap-90 caution, saving them instead for a final stop and a run at the win. But when the rest of the race went caution-free, Busch was left struggling on old tires to an eighth-place finish. After the race, he was less than pleased with the result.
"History says there's a caution in the last 10 laps here, but we didn't get it," Busch said. "I'm pissed, that's it."
NASCAR racing action continues Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Pep Boys Auto 500, the seventh race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Great seats are available by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 877-9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), 770-946-4211 or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.