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Ryan Newman wins pole for Coca-Cola 600

by Pete McCole
Thursday, May 21, 2009

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“Rocket Man” Ryan Newman blasted off to his 44th career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole on Thursday, topping the field in qualifying for Sunday night’s 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Newman posted a top lap of 188.475 mph in the no. 39 Army Chevrolet to knock Jeff Gordon off the top spot and notch the first pole for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Kyle Busch will start second, followed by Gordon, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson.

Newman’s pole was his eighth at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the most among all active drivers at the track where Newman scored his first career pole in this same event in 2001.

“I really enjoy the racetrack, the speed obviously, the banking,” said Newman. “I’ve always said that I really enjoy banked racetracks, and this is one the best and fastest banked racetracks out there.

“I’ve had fast racecars - with Penske Racing and now here with Stewart-Haas - I’ve been blessed with fast racecars. I couldn’t do it without fast racecars. I’ve always told my crew chief, if you give me a straight arrow, I’ll shoot it straight, but don’t expect me to shoot a crooked arrow to the pole, and they’ve done a very good job for me.”

Newman put on a strong performance in last Saturday’s Sprint All-Star race before brushing the wall trying to make a three-wide pass for the lead, sending him to the garage for the night.

Newman’s teammate Tony Stewart went on to win the event, scoring the first victory for Stewart-Haas Racing.

With his front row starting position, Newman hopes to follow in Stewart’s tire tracks and grab Stewart-Haas their first regular season points event win.

“It would mean the world, obviously,” said Newman. “For me it’s been over year without a win, and for Tony as an owner to get that first points win. If we could sweep the weekend, that would be really awesome.

“We just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing and stay working hard. I told the guys that after Richmond ‘keep doing what were doing and we’ll get what we want’ and that’s obviously a victory.”

Kyle Busch struggled through his qualifying lap but still managed to earn his second straight Coca-Cola 600 front-row start. Busch will be looking for his first with at Lowe’s in eight starts here. His previous best finish has been a pair of third-place showings, most recently in last year’s 600.

“I’m very disappointed. It really just wasn’t what we expected,” said Busch. “We messed up in (turns) three and four trying to make sure I got to the bottom of the track. I got down there too soon and had to pinch the car in the center. I didn’t get to keep my momentum through the corners.

“All in all, it was a good run. I just wish we could’ve been better.”

Kasey Kahne claimed the sixth starting spot in the highest qualifying Dodge, followed by Mike Bliss, Brian Vickers and Juan Pablo Montoya. 1988 Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott had the highest qualifying Ford in tenth.

Among the drivers missing the show were J.J. Yeley, Mike Garvey, Todd Bodine and David Starr.

Lineup

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 188.475 28.651 Leader
2 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 188.258 28.684 -0.033
3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 188.193 28.694 -0.043
4 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Carquest / Kellogg's 188.166 28.698 -0.047
5 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 187.820 28.751 -0.100
6 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 187.493 28.801 -0.150
7 09 Mike Bliss Dodge Phoenix Racing 187.422 28.812 -0.161
8 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 187.396 28.816 -0.165
9 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 187.188 28.848 -0.197
10 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 187.169 28.851 -0.200
11 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota Huckleberry's BBQ 187.162 28.852 -0.201
12 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / NWTF 186.916 28.890 -0.239
13 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 186.864 28.898 -0.247
14 20 Joey Logano* Toyota The Home Depot 186.832 28.903 -0.252
15 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 186.825 28.904 -0.253
16 16 Greg Biffle Ford American Red Cross / 3M 186.735 28.918 -0.267
17 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite "Taste Protector" 186.599 28.939 -0.288
18 82 Scott Speed* Toyota Red Bull 186.574 28.943 -0.292
19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 186.548 28.947 -0.296
20 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com 186.477 28.958 -0.307
21 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 186.368 28.975 -0.324
22 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 186.233 28.996 -0.345
23 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Kingsford / Clorox 186.220 28.998 -0.347
24 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 186.181 29.004 -0.353
25 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 186.014 29.030 -0.379
26 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 185.970 29.037 -0.386
27 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 185.829 29.059 -0.408
28 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 185.778 29.067 -0.416
29 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet Hyde Park Storage Suites 185.707 29.078 -0.427
30 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers 185.605 29.094 -0.443
31 98 Paul Menard Ford Johns Manville / Menards 185.592 29.096 -0.445
32 113 Max Papis* Toyota GEICO 185.433 29.121 -0.470
33 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Vise-Grip 185.319 29.139 -0.488
34 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 185.173 29.162 -0.511
35 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 185.096 29.174 -0.523
36 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 184.704 29.236 -0.585
37 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Jim Beam / Operation Homefront 184.590 29.254 -0.603
38 36 Scott Riggs Toyota Tommy Baldwin Racing 184.432 29.279 -0.628
39 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Hunt Brothers Pizza 184.338 29.294 -0.643
40 41 J.J. Yeley Toyota SmallSponsor.com 184.093 29.333 -0.682
41 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA 183.949 29.356 -0.705
42 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 183.281 29.463 -0.812
43 34 Tony Raines Chevrolet Taco Bell 183.175 29.480 -0.829
44 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge U.S. Air Force 183.156 29.483 -0.832
45 73 Mike Garvey Dodge Quality Concrete 182.457 29.596 -0.945
46 64 Todd Bodine Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 182.426 29.601 -0.950
47 106 David Starr Dodge Roni Deutch Tax Center 179.081 30.154 -1.503

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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