Ryan Newman wins pole for Coca-Cola 600
“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.
+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie
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