LOUDON, N.H. – Though the prognosticators may have put Ryan Newman in Victory Lane, nobody saw this coming.
Newman survived an 88-lap green flag run to the end on Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, winning the F.W. Webb 100 for his third straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at the track. Newman led three times for a total of 61 laps, including the final 17 circuits.
"I didn't really know what to expect with the race or how it was going to unfold," said Newman, who has won his last four starts, including a win at Bristol Motor Speedway last year. "It seemed like the track wasn't much like it was in practice, and we struggled a little bit with that part of it. We were way loose, but we were the tightest of the loose cars."
There were only two caution flags in the event, and the race restarted for the final time on Lap 14. From there, Newman, Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy checked out.
Szegedy was the first to challenge Newman, diving under him for the lead on Lap 34. It was a short-lived advantage for the former series champion, as Newman passed him back only three laps later.
Silk then went out and grabbed the top spot two laps shy of halfway. He led the trio as it checked out on the rest of the field – which led fourth-place by nearly half a lap at the checkered flag.
But as the race wore on and the cars freed up, Newman, who had drifted back to third, started back for the lead. He passed Szegedy for second on Lap 80 and then took the lead from Silk four laps later – pulling off to a margin of victory of nearly two seconds.
Szegedy passed Silk for second on the final lap. Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby rounded out the Top-5. Just 10 of the 32 cars that made the starting grid finished on the lead lap.
"I got close to Newman there on the last lap," Silk said. "(The lapped car of) Eric Beers gave me a tow to get me within range of him. I just sailed it down into (Turn 1) there, and got up in the loose stuff. Once you get up there, you can't get out. That's how Todd was able to get me at the end there."
"Today, a second was kind of like a win," Szegedy said. "We beat all the regulars. We had some bad luck here the last four or five races, so it was definitely a good run."
Newman, who also sits on the pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire, now has four wins and four poles in eight career Tour starts.
Both Andy Petree (crash) and Rob Fuller (engine) withdrew from the race following Saturday morning's final practice.