* Ryan Newman, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Kodak Dodge Charger, has seven poles, one top-five and four top-10 finishes in 13 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). * Newman has seven career poles at AMS and is currently...
* Ryan Newman, driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Kodak Dodge Charger, has seven poles, one top-five and four top-10 finishes in 13 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS).
* Newman has seven career poles at AMS and is currently tied for the all-time pole record at the track. Newman's friend and mentor Buddy Baker also owns seven poles at Atlanta. Newman credits Baker for teaching him how to get around AMS, as well as many other tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit, when he first joined Penske Racing in 2000. Baker was so instrumental in helping Newman early in his career, that Newman named the No. 12 Alltel Dodge that he drove to victory in February's 50th Running of the Daytona 500 and is now on display in the Daytona 500 Experience museum, "Buddy."
* Newman scored six consecutive pole positions at the 1.54-mile track from March 2003 to October 2005. He scored his seventh pole at Atlanta in March 2007.
* Newman's qualifying prowess at Atlanta isn't just about pole positions. In 13 starts at AMS, Newman has started outside the top 10 only twice. He started 17th in October 2006 when inclement weather forced the starting lineup to be set by points. This past March, Newman qualified 12th. Newman's average starting position at AMS is 4.2.
* Newman's best finish at AMS was a fifth-place effort in March 2004.
* In the spring race at Atlanta, Newman looked to have at least a top-10 race car. Newman was running in the top five when he got caught up in an on-track incident not of his making with just under 100 laps remaining in the race. Newman had to pit under the green flag to fix the damage, causing him to lose a lap to the leaders. Newman wound up finishing 14th.
QUALIFYING AT ATLANTA: "I would like to think that when we go to Atlanta, I'm going to have a shot at the pole. It has been a track where I really like to qualify and where I qualify well. Everyone always asks me about what it would mean to break Buddy Baker's pole record at the track, since we are tied with seven each. It would be bittersweet because it's Buddy's record, but it would also be an honor for me. Buddy has really helped me throughout my racing career. He has been a good friend to me and my family and a mentor. Buddy was my teacher when I first came to Penske Racing. I tell everyone that Buddy would take me to tracks and work with me, but not the way that you would think. We would get to a track, and we would drive the tracks backwards because he said it would give me a different perspective of the entry and exit points. He was right. That taught me how to approach those areas of the race track when I was driving on it the right way. When we worked together, Buddy would never tell me what I was doing right, but he would point out where I was doing something wrong. He was teaching me to learn from my mistakes. How he worked with me and what he taught me is something that I will never forget. He has really been somebody special to me in my career."
RACING AT ATLANTA: "We had a good car at Atlanta this spring, and we are taking the same Kodak Dodge back there this weekend. It was a top-10 or top-five car, but we got caught up in someone else's accident and finished 14th. Atlanta has been a good track for me in qualifying, but that hasn't been the case with our race finishes. We've had a couple of tough breaks these last few weeks, and I would like to change that this weekend. I'm coming to the end of my tenure with the 12 team and Penske, and we would like to end on a high note--just like we started it."
THIS WEEKEND: "We would like to continue Ryan's history of qualifying success at Atlanta, but the weather doesn't look like it is going to cooperate yet again for qualifying this weekend. During practice, we will primarily focus on trying to gain overall grip. The rear grip level is important on the long run, especially as the cars start to slide around and the drivers move to the high line. Another part to the equation is that the tires there have a history of wearing out quickly, so it's not about how fast you are at the start of the run but about how consistent you are over the last 30 laps of a run. We had a good run going there in the spring, and we are hoping to build on that."
PRS-519: The No. 12 Kodak Dodge at Atlanta is the same car that Newman raced at 1.5-mile oval in March. Newman ran in the top five with the car, but he got caught up in an on-track incident and finished 14th. Newman also piloted the car at both Dover races this year, where he finished 14th in June and 13th in September.
PRS-558: The backup No. 12 Dodge is the same car that Newman drove to a fourth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season.