Friday Indianapolis practice notes

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Aug. 3, 2001 - Rookie Ryan Newman returned to his home state with a flourish, leading the opening practice for the Brickyard 400 with a speed of 177.908 mph on Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Newman, 23, from ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Aug. 3, 2001 - Rookie Ryan Newman returned to his home state with a flourish, leading the opening practice for the Brickyard 400 with a speed of 177.908 mph on Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Newman, 23, from South Bend, Ind., turned just six laps on the 2.5-mile oval during the one-hour practice in the No. 02 ALLTEL Ford. But he was fastest overall on just his second lap.

"Being fast today really doesn't mean much," Newman said. "It does let us know the car is very capable. We went and tested well. We think this car will qualify well, also. My hat's off to the crew for preparing the car the way they did. I've not had a lot of laps here. So to be in the position is a great confidence booster."

1999 USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series champion Newman is competing in a limited Winston Cup schedule this season for Penske Racing. He will attempt to win his second pole at 10:15 a.m. Saturday when qualifying starts. Newman won the pole for the Coca-Cola 600 in May at Charlotte, N.C. Newman has made three Winston Cup starts this season, with a best finish of fifth in the Kmart 400 on June 10 at Michigan International Speedway.

1997 Brickyard 400 winner Ricky Rudd was second fastest at 177.637 in the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford. Rudd is second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings entering this event.

Jeremy Mayfield was third fastest at 177.452 in the No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford. Two-time Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett, third in Winston Cup points, was fourth at 176.824. Rusty Wallace rounded out the top five at 176.446 in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford.

NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Jeff Gordon, a two-time Brickyard 400 winner, was 18th at 175.135. Defending race and series champion Bobby Labonte was 22nd at 174.914.

It was an up-and-down day for Indiana natives in the field. Newman was fastest, while Indianapolis native John Andretti was ninth at 175.740 in the No. 43 Honey Nut Cheerios Ford. Tony Stewart, from Rushville, Ind., struggled in 33rd at 173.645 in the No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac. Stewart is fourth in NASCAR Winston Cup Series points.

"It's tough to learn anything in an hour," Stewart said. "We're not very good right now."

Ten of the 11 True Value IROC competitors participated in two practice sessions today in preparation for the IROC at Indy race at 2 p.m. (EST) Saturday.

Saturday will be one of the most pressure-packed days in Brickyard 400 history. NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers will have only one lap in one session of qualifying to make the 43-car field, while eight of the 11 drivers in the IROC field are eligible to win the championship after this race, the last in the series this season.

-IMS-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Ryan Newman