Charlotte Happy Hour goes to speedy Newman

Pole sitter Ryan Newman continued to dominate at Lowe's Motor Speedway by turning the fastest lap in final practice for Nextel Cup teams. Newman posted a lap of 184.761 mph. "The track is obviously faster, about half a second faster than what ...

Pole sitter Ryan Newman continued to dominate at Lowe's Motor Speedway by turning the fastest lap in final practice for Nextel Cup teams. Newman posted a lap of 184.761 mph.

"The track is obviously faster, about half a second faster than what we experienced last fall in qualifying," said Newman. "It's faster, that's pretty much it. It's a little tougher to pass, mostly in one and two because of the way it's ground, which is kinda good. We've all got to work with that.

"As much as everybody hates to hear it, track position is so very important. Qualifying up front is a good way to start the race and we can get a good jump, lead some laps and put ourselves in good position to have a good car and make some changes as the track changes throughout the night to stay up front."

Newman and crew chief Matt Borland have elected to start on the outside of the front row for Sunday's race. According to NASCAR rules, the pole sitter can choose which side of the front row they would like to start on. The little known rule is rarely exercised, although All-Star Open pole sitter Mike Bliss made the same choice last weekend.

"I didn't even realize it was an option until yesterday," Borland said. "After what we saw last weekend, I think it'll be a good thing."

Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was second. Johnson toured the 1.5- mile speedway with a quick lap of 184.269 mph.

"If you set the car up for the beginning of the race in the sun, you're not going to be very good for the night portions," said Johnson who starts fifth. "Everybody has a different strategy. It doesn't matter where you start a 600 mile race. It does matter where you are on pit road to qualify in the top 5 so that you can get a good pit road selection. But, after that is 600 miles."

Kyle Busch, Travis Kvapil and Brian Vickers complete the top five fastest cars.

"I am pretty happy with it," said Busch. "We struggled just a little bit here and there with a loose condition. But it seems as though as soon as you get rid of the loose then you are tight, and then you are 2/10ths, 3/10ths slower.

"We have a good race car.we are looking forward to the race tomorrow night."

Third place qualifier Matt Kenseth wrecked during final practice for Cup teams. Team 17 was attempting to fix the car rather than have to drop to the back of the field with a back-up car.

"Driver error," said Kenseth. "I was leaving pit road and I spun out. I don't know. I made a dumb mistake. I was getting up to speed and I looked in the mirror and hit the apron and just spun out."

Elliott Sadler, who finished second in the All-Star race, and led the initial practice for the Coke 600, parked his car thirty minutes before practice was over. The team covered the car and packed up because their ride "was so right".

"We know we're gonna have a good car for the race. I mean, we're gonna be disappointed with that starting spot of course, but we think we'll be OK come race time," said Sadler who had the best ten lap average in final practice. "We'll just do the best we can. Six hundred miles is a long race, we'll get 'em there."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Mike Bliss , Brian Vickers , Elliott Sadler , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil