Newman draws Daytona pole

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series star Newman draws top spot; rules changes expected to make Friday's Crown Royal IROC series opener at Daytona exciting as ever. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 11, 2004) -- Over the past year, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ...

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series star Newman draws top spot; rules changes expected to make Friday's Crown Royal IROC series opener at Daytona exciting as ever.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 11, 2004) -- Over the past year, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors have become accustomed to seeing the back bumper of young gun Ryan Newman. But on Friday, drivers from other top racing series' will also know how it feels to follow Newman to the green flag as he drew the top starting spot for the season-opening event for the Crown Royal IROC Series at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 13.

Newman drew the top starting spot Wednesday afternoon over 11 other drivers representing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, IRL IndyCar Series, USAC, and the World of Outlaws. Fellow young gun Jimmie Johnson will start on the outside of the front row followed by World of Outlaws veterans Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser, with defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five.

"We don't qualify very well (at Daytona) so it's cool to be able to start up front," said Newman. "In an IROC race you be about sixth after the first lap. We'll see how it works out. I look forward to the opportunity in the IROC Crown Royal Series and hopefully we can do some good things in the races and get the million dollar victory."

Along with drawing the starting positions for Friday's race, Crown Royal IROC officials announced rule changes that are designed to heighten the level of competition throughout the 40-lap event.

At Lap 25, a competition yellow will halt the racing action and the pits will be closed. Bonus points of 3-2-1 will be awarded to drivers in the first three positions respectively. The field will line up single file behind the pace car after taking the yellow flag. The race leader will assume the center groove ahead of the remainder of the field. Starting with the second place car, one by one, in order of position, the drivers will make a decision as to which lane he will take forming a double file line up behind the leader for the restart of the race.

Once realigned, there will be five double file rows behind the leader leaving the driver in last place the option to restart in the groove of his choice as a consolation.

Giving the drivers a choice as to where they restart the race for the final segment adds another dimension of individual driver strategy and excitement to the event.

This year's Crown Royal IROC Series opener is scheduled to take the green flag at 5 p.m., and will be the first IROC race to finish under the lights at Daytona International Speedway. Later that night, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will race run under the lights for the first time ever at the World Center of Racing in the Florida Dodge Dealers 250.

For ticket information, call 1-800-PITSHOP or log on to www.daytona500.com.

-dis-

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