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, N.C.
“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; 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.
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 the Top 35 include: Scott Riggs, Ward Burton, Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann, AJ 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 p.m. 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 consensus.
- In advance of Jarrett’s announcement Friday, sources say 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 Mayfield splitting driving duties on the UPS car next season.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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