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Mike Neff · Friday October 12, 2007
Ryan Newman is about to run his 14th race at Lowe's Motor Speedway – and for the seventh time, he is going to start from the pole.
Newman outdueled Chasers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Kurt Busch among others to win the right to start up front for the Bank of America 500 Saturday night. Johnson proved the biggest nemesis for Newman; but while the No. 48 car has made Victory Lane his second home at the track, Newman is the king of Nextel Cup qualifying among active drivers at the 1.5-mile oval in Concord, NC.
“We picked up over a half a second difference over practice,” said Newman about his run. “Typically, here at Charlotte you can feel the speed, and it was a great lap for us."
The night weather cooled off rather dramatically in Concord, and the grip in the track responded as the track temperature dropped throughout the qualifying session. As always, that proved the difference; Jimmie Johnson went out 42nd, but didn't even get to enjoy the fruits of what was a pole-winning time for more than three minutes until Newman went out 45th and set the fast lap. Seven of the top 10 qualifiers went out 32nd or later.
“We did some scuff runs in race trim; switched the car over to qualifying trim, did two qualifying runs and qualifying was just a matter of beating the No. 48 car,” explained Newman. “He was the guy to beat in practice, after practice. He had a good draw; we had a tick better draw. I had the advantage of knowing what he ran, and I pushed my car to what I thought I needed to. It was a great lap for us. It was smooth. If I had to do it all over again, I'd say I could have done it better, but maybe not. I just look forward to the rest of the weekend after a great start here tonight."
Newman now finds himself halfway to setting the all-time pole winner's total at Charlotte, which is David Pearson with 14.
Following Newman and Johnson in the starting lineup are: Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Casey Mears, and Greg Biffle. The rest of the Chase contenders will start in the following positions: Denny Hamlin 11th, Kyle Busch 13th, Carl Edwards 18th, Kevin Harvick 24th, Clint Bowyer 25th, Jeff Burton 27th, Tony Stewart 29th and Martin Truex Jr. 32nd.
The drivers who made the field on speed outside of the Top 35 include: Scott Riggs, Ward Burton, Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann, A.J. Allmendinger, Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield, and John Andretti. That left Dale Jarrett, Brian Vickers, Joe Nemechek, Sam Hornish, Jr., Carl Long, and Kirk Shelmerdine going home. For Hornish, it was his fourth straight DNQ in as many attempts this season.
The Bank of America 500 will take place Saturday night at 7:00 PM. It can be seen on ABC and heard on PRN.
Qualifying News ‘N’ Notes
- Tires continued to be the talk throughout the garage area during practice and qualifying sessions. It appears as though the Goodyear tire that will be used this weekend is slightly softer than what they had for the race in May, but is still a rather conservative compound. While it won't wear out to a point of blowing, it will hopefully fall of some over time and force teams to actually change tires instead of being able to do fuel only stops. Not perfect…but better seemed to be the general concensus.
- In advance of Dale Jarrett’s announcement Friday, sources say David Reutimann officially signed his contract Wednesday afternoon to return to the No. 00 Toyota in 2008. When Jarrett scales back to a limited schedule, it will reportedly be Jeremy Mayfield splitting driving duties on the UPS car next season.
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Jeremy Mayfield is going to be Jarrett’s replacement? How sad is that? I hope Mickey doesn’t sign him to a long contract. As soon as Jeremy doesn’t like something about MWR, he’ll start bad-mouthing Michael just like he did his last two owners until they finally got rid of him. I’d rather deal with an immature Kyle Busch and his ranting and raving rather than a has-been driver like Mayfield who thinks the world owes him everything. What a loser. Good luck next year with him M.W.
I’m excited about this race and congrats to Newman on taking the poll. I’m definitely pulling for Kurt Busch Saturday night. His Dodge has been running well and he moved up a few places in the cup standings after his Talladega finish. Hopefully he places well in Charlotte.
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