Barberville, FL — Did Ryan Newman learn something on Friday night at the Volusia Speedway Park half-mile dirt track that helped him capture the Daytona 500 on Sunday?
The evidence is clearly there. Only two days after the NASCAR star piloted his Alltel Wireless UMP DIRTcar Late Model to a 16th-place finish in the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Newman was standing in Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway celebrating the biggest victory of his career in NASCAR’s signature event.
Newman competed on Friday night in the UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model feature at Volusia, where he not only climbed behind the wheel of his Alltel Wireless machine but also signed autographs and answered fans’ questions.
“It was probably one of the more relaxing and fun times I had down here other than winning the Daytona 500,” said Newman, a native of South Bend, Ind. “I wish I could have done this good over there.”
No doubt Newman’s experience on the Volusia dirt played a role in his ability to muscle his NASCAR Sprint Cup car to victory Sunday in the 50th Anniversary Daytona 500 on a day where temperatures soared and made the racing surface a little slick, not unlike a dirt track.
“Dirt track racing is a lot of fun, and I really enjoy racing the Late Model,” Newman said Friday night. “[World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion] Steve Francis got me started doing it, and I’m just trying to get better at it. I enjoy racing with these guys, they’re class acts.”
While Newman wasn’t able to take the checkered flag on Friday night, 18 different dirt track superstars representing 13 different states did wind up in the Alltel Wireless Victory Lane during the two-week Alltel DIRTcar Nationals that concluded on Saturday night. All 18 drivers are eligible to win $12,000 from Alltel Wireless, with fans deciding the winner by voting online at AlltelAllStar.com.
The Alltel All-Star contest is open until 11:59 on March 16, and the contenders include:
Sprint Cars — Wayne Johnson, Mustang, Okla.; Craig Dollansky, Elk River, Minn.; Jason Meyers, Clovis, Calif.; Danny Lasoski, Dover, Mo.; and Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D., a two-time winner during the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals.
UMP DIRTcar Modifieds — Jesse Stovall, Branson, Mo.; Scott Drake, Webb City, Mo.; Dave Hess Jr., Waterford, Pa.; Tim Hancock, Mount Olive, Ill.; Dave Groves, Morgantown, W.Va.; and two-time Alltel DIRTcar Nationals winner Jared Landers, Batesville, Ark.
Dirt Late Models — Three-time winner Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.; Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.; and Clint Smith, Senoia, Ga.
Advance Auto Parts Big Block Modifieds — Billy Pauch, Frenchtown, N.J.; Brett Hearn, Sussex, N.J.; Dale Planck, Cortland, N.Y.; and Jimmy Horton, Neshanic Station, N.J.
The 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals concluded Sunday night. The two-week event featured the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series™, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series™, the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series™, UMP DIRTcar Racing™ Late Models and Open Wheel Modifieds, and the All Star Circuit of Champions. Each race night included two feature events that made a driver eligible to be an Alltel All-Star.
Alltel is owner and operator of the nation’s largest wireless network and has more than 12 million customers. For more information about Alltel, please visit www.alltel.com.