LOUDON, N.H. (AP) -- Ryan Newman wanted nothing more than for the rain to come.
Riding in front of the field under a caution flag, he knew that if it rained, he probably would have his first Winston Cup victory.
"We had a little angel floating around in the sky," he said Sunday after winning the rain-shortened New Hampshire 300. "I was like, 'Just please rain. There's no reason why you shouldn't rain right now."'
The rain did fall, and Newman solidified his credentials as the top young driver in NASCAR. The victory at New Hampshire International Speedway came after consecutive second-place finishes. It was his series-leading 13th top-five finish in 27 races.
Don Miller, who heads Roger Penske's stock car program, expects many more victories from his 24-year-old driver, a Purdue graduate.
"He's one of the best," Miller said. "He's got a lot of traits like other drivers. Like Mark Donohue, he's a real thinker. He's got the tenacity of a Cale Yarborough. He's got the aptitude to qualify like no other driver I've ever seen."
Newman barely held off Kurt Busch, with Tony Stewart right behind, when the race was called after 207 of 300 laps.
Newman showed his poise late in the race, holding his ground as Busch bumped him from behind. Asked if he knew how hard Busch was pushing him, Newman laughed.
"That's what we've got mirrors for," he said.
Lap after lap, Busch drew up to Newman's bumper, barley tapping him once.
A caution for rain was waved on lap 199. After seven more laps, NASCAR ended the race.
"It was a great race," said Busch, also among the young racers beginning to have a major impact in NASCAR.
"He just raced me clean, and I appreciate it," Newman said.
Newman's only momentary confusion came after he took the checkered flag.
"I couldn't tell whether it was rain or champagne," he said.
Newman has eight top-five finishes in his last 10 starts. He had five second-place finishes before breaking through in his 35th career start.
It was the first points-paying victory for the former USAC open-wheel champion from South Bend, Ind. In May, he won The Winston, NASCAR's all-star race.
Sterling Marlin finished 21st and lost the points lead for the first time since the second race of the season. Mark Martin, who overcame a tire problem with 50 laps remaining, took it away with a finish of 16th. He leads Marlin by six points in one of the closest races in NASCAR history.
NHRA event postponed
MOHNTON, Pa. -- Sunday's final eliminations for the 18th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway were postponed due to persistent rain. Eliminations have been rescheduled for today.
The start of eliminations was delayed nearly two hours before the first round of Top Fuel was completed. Midway through the opening round of Funny Car eliminations the rain resumed, forcing NHRA officials to postpone the race.
Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher recorded the second quickest pass during the opening round when he clocked a 4.589 second run in his dragster to defeat Don Sosenka. Schumacher, who will face Doug Herbert in the second round, is looking to earn his second consecutive tour victory.
Hornish wins season title
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Sam Hornish Jr. won another incredible race at Texas Motor Speedway, and his second straight IRL title.
Hornish went side-by-side with Helio Castroneves for many of the last 25 laps in the season-ending Chevy 500, crossing the finish line 0.0096 seconds -- only a few inches -- ahead of the only other driver in contention for the season championship.
Hornish won his IRL-record fifth race of the season, and the 23-year-old Pennzoil Panther racer became the first driver to win two IRL championships.
Barrichello paces GP
MONZA, Italy (AP) -- Rubens Barrichello led Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher across the finish line in the Italian Grand Prix, setting off a celebration by the home fans.
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