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Behind the Wheel: Newman gets extra time to savor Martinsville win

April 12, 2012, Ryan Newman, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Behind the Wheel: Newman gets extra time to savor Martinsville win

I have to say one of the best things about having an off-weekend when we did was that I have been able to really kind of sit back and enjoy our win at Martinsville Speedway. And it's not often that you get the chance to do that.

I really hope the fans enjoyed the Martinsville race. It was a pretty good race and, from what I've heard, the people still are talking about that ending. There's been a lot of talk, and here's my take on it.

"One of the coolest things for me, though, was finally getting that grandfather clock. I have wanted one of those since I started racing, and to finally achieve that really meant a lot to me."

--RYAN NEWMAN

Let me first defend David Reutimann because I don't think there's anything he did wrong. I mean, obviously it wasn't ideal for a couple of teams out there, but it's racing. That's the way it all works out. He was racing for a different position -- not to win -- but he still had a job to do.

What happened with him triggered the last series of pit stops. The 24 [Jeff Gordon] and the 48 [Jimmie Johnson] stayed out, so they were on really old tires. Of the cars behind them, a group of us took two tires, which gave us a little bit of an advantage.

When we took two tires, the advantage was for the second row on the back. I got a good run at the start. I think it was kind of a situation of circumstances. You get better traction on the concrete than the asphalt, and when I restarted fifth, I was still on the concrete when I got in the gas and got a run toward the 15 [Clint Bowyer]. He started to duck out. I don't know if it was to block me; I don't know if it was to get a run and try to get the 24 to move up.

I made my move right at the start-finish line. I gave Clint a really good shot in the bumper as he was in the process of blocking me before I pulled out. That, I think, gave him a little more speed than he anticipated and a little more courage to get down into Turn 1. I laid off him after that, and it was just a matter of what are these guys going to do. They all spun and crashed in front of us, and we were able to get through it.

As for the final restart with me and A.J. Allmendinger, my goal was to race him clean. I had the inside. I had the preferred line. I had eight tires instead of four. I'll be honest, on that last restart, I was more worried about racing the 88 [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] and not having the same thing happen to me that happened to the 24. I figured if I could keep the 88 at bay -- behind me going into Turn 1 -- then it was just two laps of racing the 22 [Allmendinger] outside of me. I think it took three of the four corners to clear him, and then we took the checkered flag.

There's no doubt it was an impressive day for us. I really kind of took us out of the game early, and we ended up going a lap down because of my speeding penalty, but the guys did an awesome job in giving me the car to make the changes. They didn't give up. They kept their heads in the game and they gave me a lot of support and confidence.

We were not a dominant race car, but we put ourselves in contention. The way the strategy and everything worked out, coming in for two tires and Clint kind of clearing out Turn 1 for us, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

We've been in that position and been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's nice to be able to at least balance it out and get Outback in Victory Lane. It was really special for us, and it was really special for Outback because it was their first race with the team. I understand they gave away a lot of free Bloomin' Onions on Monday.

(You see, every time I finish in the top 10 this season, Outback gives away free Bloomin' Onions if you mention my name.)

One of the coolest things for me, though, was finally getting that grandfather clock. I have wanted one of those since I started racing, and to finally achieve that really meant a lot to me. As soon as we won the race, I knew right where Krissie and I were going to put that clock, in the great room of our log cabin. It looks good.

Oh, and by the way, the clock you saw on TV isn't the clock at my house. That's just the race-track display. I was wiping off the clock during the Victory Lane celebration because it had Coke and champagne all over it, and I was thinking, "Man, we just ruined my new clock." Luckily, that wasn't the case.

So after a nice weekend off with my girls -- Krissie and Brooklyn -- it's back to work this weekend at Texas. There's kind of a double-edged sword with an off-weekend. It's a great and much-needed break, but our team -- our entire Stewart-Haas Racing organization -- has a lot of momentum right now. We really want to keep that going in a positive direction. Hopefully, we'll pick up right where we left off.

The No. 39 team has had good runs at the intermediate tracks so far this year, and Stewart won at Texas in the fall, so it would be nice to continue that trend.

Behind the Wheel with Ryan Newman runs twice a month on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanNewman39 and online at www.ryannewman.org and www.ryannewmanfoundation.org. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.