Indianapolis, Ind. – In a dramatic ending to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifications at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman went out last and ended up setting a track record as he sped to the pole for Sunday’s 20th annual Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at The Brickyard. His speed in the Quicken Loans/The Smurfs Chevrolet was a blistering 187.531 miles per hour.
In winning the 50th Sprint Cup pole of his career, Newman knocked Jimmie Johnson from the pole, a provisional spot he had occupied while 33 others couldn’t match his speed.
Newman joins eight other Sprint Cup drivers with 50 or more poles. Richard Petty leads the way with 123.
Said Newman, “I thought we were a contender, and my real gauge today was Tony Stewart. When he qualified fourth, I thought we had a shot. I did my homework, and my guys did, too. This is awesome. It was a great effort today.
“For me, this is special as it is the Brickyard, and I haven’t won a pole before, plus it has been so long since I’ve won a pole. I got emotional on the backstretch when they told me I had the pole. It is special for me for a lot of reasons -- being from Indiana, being it is The Brickyard and being so long since I’ve gotten a pole. Having the first pit box should give us an advantage tomorrow.” His most recent pole came at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, 2011.
Johnson nailed down the outside front row starting spot with a run of 187.438 mph in the Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet.
Noted Johnson, who came up .024 seconds short, “It was a very close qualifying session. When you look through the top four or five cars, it was very, very tight, and I had some close calls including with Carl (Edwards) and the great lap he had. Watching the lap tracker, I didn’t have the best turns 1 and 2, but in 3 and 4, I’d rally back on Ryan (Newman), but just didn’t have enough front straightaway. I did miss it in turn 2 a little bit while Ryan hit all four corners great and got it done.”
Johnson has four Brickyard victories to his credit and is poised to gain the fourth.
Edwards timed third in the Fastenal Ford at 187.157 mph.
“We brought a brand new car here, and we were not very good at the beginning of practice,” he said. “Everybody worked really hard, and we had a great (turns) 1 and 2 and not so great at 3 and 4, and I thought I was going to be the most disappointed guy in the place until Ryan ran his lap. We all don’t need to feel too bad for Jimmie, but that was pretty dramatic. I didn’t really expect it.”
Denny Hamlin qualified for the outside of the second row with a speed of 187.122 mph.
Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch gained the third-row starting spots followed by Kasey Kahne and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Jeff Gordon timed ninth with Marcos Ambrose gaining the 10th spot.
The top nine qualifiers broke the mark 2004 record of 186.293 mph set by Casey Mears.
Brad Keselowski qualified 12th fastest and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the 15th spot.
Forty-five cars attempted to qualify with Mike Bliss and Scott Speed coming up short.