Countdown to the Daytona Shootout: Ryan Newman

Countdown to the Budweiser Shootout: Ryan Newman 11 Days Until the Budweiser Shootout Bud pole dominator Newman gunning for 1st Shootout victory (Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004) -- So you like the new points system. Or maybe you don't. Or maybe you...

Countdown to the Budweiser Shootout: Ryan Newman

11 Days Until the Budweiser Shootout
Bud pole dominator Newman gunning for 1st Shootout victory

(Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004) -- So you like the new points system. Or maybe you don't. Or maybe you find it intriguing. Or maybe you don't really care. That's OK, because while the "Chase for the Championship" has sparked myriad opinions, there's one humbling aspect that seems to produce a hint of agreement: At least NASCAR isn't awarding bonus points to pole winners, because Ryan Newman -- who has more poles than a fire station -- could turn the "chase" into a nine-team battle for second.

Some would venture to say that could happen anyway. Newman accounted for a series-high eight wins in 2003 to go along with 17 top-fives and 22 top-10s. His domination, however, came in qualifying, where he became the first driver in 18 years to win 11 Bud Pole Awards in one season, three shy of Cale Yarborough's modern-era record.

Yet the South Bend, Ind., native is without a Budweiser Shootout victory, which is a weird twist of irony since this all-star race was created for pole winners, and Newman is averaging nine poles per season. In his two Shootout appearances, Newman finished 15th and fourth.

"The Budweiser Shootout is a great race," he said. "They created this race to reward Bud Pole winners, and I had a great year qualifying last season, so I'm really looking forward to this year's Shootout. Anyone who is going to put up money to create a race and reward the winner is cool with me."

Even without a win, Newman is already a part of Budweiser Shootout history. He is one of only two drivers who raced in this event as a rookie. Typically, rookies cannot qualify, because eligibility stems off the previous year's pole winners and past Shootout champions. But Newman actually competed in seven races in 2001, which is the maximum number of races a driver can enter without gaining rookie status. He instantly made his mark by winning the Bud Pole Award at Lowe's Motor Speedway (May 25). In doing so, he became eligible for the 2002 Budweiser Shootout even though 2002 was officially his rookie season.

The only other driver to achieve that was Mark Martin. His rookie season was 1982, but he competed in five races the year before and earned two poles, putting him in the 1982 Budweiser Shootout (then called the Busch Clash) as a rookie.

Of the 22 drivers eligible for the 2004 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, Newman ranks ninth in career poles. But the average rookie year of the eight drivers ahead of him is 1984. Newman was six years old at that time. <pre> Budweiser Shootout Driver, career poles (rookie season) 1. Bill Elliott 55 (1976) 2. Jeff Gordon 46 (1993) 3. Mark Martin 41 (1982) 4. Geoffrey Bodine 37 (1982) 5. Rusty Wallace 36 (1984) 6. Terry Labonte 27 (1979) 7. Bobby Labonte 25 (1993) 8. Ken Schrader 23 (1985) 9. Ryan Newman 18 (2002) 10. Dale Jarrett 15 (1987) 11. Tony Stewart 7 (1999) 12. Jeremy Mayfield 7 (1994) 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6 (2000) 14. Jimmie Johnson 6 (2002) 15. Mike Skinner 5 (1997) 16. Steve Park 4 (1998) 17. Kevin Harvick 2 (2001) 18. Elliott Sadler 2 (1999) 19. Jeff Green 2 (1997) 20. Dave Blaney 1 (2000) 21. Boris Said 1 22. Jamie McMurray 1 (2003)

Bud Pole Awards in 2003: 1. Ryan Newman 11 2. Bobby Labonte 4 3. Jeff Gordon 4 4. Jimmie Johnson 2 5. Steve Park 2 6. Elliott Sadler 2 7. Dave Blaney 1 8. Jeff Green 1 9. Terry Labonte 1 10. Jeremy Mayfield 1 11. Tony Stewart 1 12. Kevin Harvick 1 13. Boris Said 1 14. Mike Skinner 1 15. Jamie McMurray 1

The 26th running of the Budweiser Shootout is scheduled for Sat., Feb. 7. It can be seen live on TNT at 8 p.m. ET. For race tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or log on to www.1-800-Pitshop.com.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , Geoffrey Bodine , Ken Schrader , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Cale Yarborough , Mark Martin