Newman shatters track record at Martinsville

Under threatening skies, NEXTEL Cup teams took to the short track at Martinsville Speedway for time-trial efforts after a forty minute delay due to AM showers, and "rocket man" Ryan Newman shattered the old track record by nearly two miles per hour by posting a lap of 97.043 miles per hour.

Ryan Newman.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"That was pretty quick," said Newman. "It was a good lap for us. They did a really great job resurfacing the track and making it smooth.

The effort marks Newman's second pole at Martinsville and seventh of the season.

"Track position is everything," Newman said. "It's a good can't benefit from the pit selection until you get the track position. It's just a good start to the entire weekend.I think we will do well here."

Newman's teammate, Rusty Wallace, will start on the outside pole with a lap of 96.234 mph.

"I was pretty loose that first lap," commented Wallace, who won the spring race here. "It would be sweet to sweep here this season. We've had good cars all season long; just have been tied to some crazy luck. This team is on their game."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was third with a lap of 96.205 mph.

"I was pretty surprised," said Earnhardt. "I thought we would struggle in qualifying. We were able to hang onto it and qualify pretty good.

"When Ryan (Newman) lays a lap like that down, all you can really look forward to is qualifying well enough to get better pit selection."

Ward Burton was fourth, posting a speed of 96.107 mph.

"It was a pretty good lap," Burton said. "All the NetZero Chevrolet guys and Bill Ingle (crew chief) made some good calls right then. I needed a little bit more grip right past the center of the corner."

Travis Kvapil, attempting to make his first NEXTEL Cup start, will take the green flag from the fifth spot with a lap of 96.102 mph.

"Martinsville is one of my favorite tracks," said Kvapil. "The first time I came here was in a truck and I finished second."

Points leader Kurt Busch rolls the No. 97 Ford off from the seventh starting spot. Currently, Busch leads the field by 24 points.

"It was a great first lap and on the second lap I was in the throttle coming out of two and it just didn't stick," said Busch. "All this extra horsepower that we brought from when we tested took away the difference of what could have helped us. But that's why the fans come to Martinsville, because the speeds are so tight and the racing is so tight."

Fifty cars attempted to qualify for the forty-three car field. Failing to make the show were Klaus Graf, Mike Garvey, Mario Gosselin, Ryan McGlynn, Greg Sacks, Brad Teague and Carl Long.