Newman claims pole at Phoenix

They might as well just start giving Ryan Newman the Bud pole award on Fridays and give everyone an extra day off. Newman navigated his No. 12 Dodge Intrepid to a series-high 10th season pole with a lap of 133.675 mph at Phoenix International ...

They might as well just start giving Ryan Newman the Bud pole award on Fridays and give everyone an extra day off. Newman navigated his No. 12 Dodge Intrepid to a series-high 10th season pole with a lap of 133.675 mph at Phoenix International Raceway.

"We started off playing a little catch-up today," said Newman. "There wasn't a huge amount of difference, but maybe just a little difference than the way it was. We unloaded and we were OK. It was up to me to get my marks right. I knew Brian (Vickers) put down a pretty good lap. I asked him if there wasn't anything left in the track. I think he was trying to tell me no. He did a great job.

It is Newman's second career pole at Phoenix, and 17th of his career. It hot lap also marks a milestone: it is the most poles scored by a driver in one season since Bill Elliott did it with 11 in 1985.

"It doesn't get old," said Newman of winning poles. "It always will be a great confidence booster for the team. It kicks off a great weekend.

Newcomer Vickers takes the green flag from the outside pole with a lap of 133.675 mph. While Vickers teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon share the second row.

"We were good right off the truck," said Gordon. "Nice to see all the Hendrick cars up there at the front."

Rusty Wallace rounds out the top five, making it a clean sweep for the Penske cars in the top five.

"I really like what they've done to the track," said Wallace. "There's more room out there to run. I think you're going to see more passing off turn two. In my qualifying lap, I just came through turns three and four and as I was getting to four I was getting a little loose. I just held on until I hit the new asphalt. Once I hit it, it really stuck. I love coming out to Phoenix. It's a lot of fun. That's a good solid run, and I'm real excited about Sunday."

The three Hendrick Motorsports cars also lock the top five, claiming positions two through four.

Championship point leader Matt Kenseth had to take a provisional spot; and starts 37th. His two rivals for the Winston Cup trophy, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick start 11th and 13th respectively.

"We ran OK at times today, but we just don't have the speed," said Kenseth. "It's just like what we've done the last few weeks. Our car drives pretty good, but we just don't go anywhere. I'm doing everything I can do. I don't feel that bad. We just don't go anywhere, so we'll just have to wear them down in the race like we've been doing."

Kenseth leads Earnhardt by 248 points, with three events left on the calendar. Kenseth needs to just place 21st or better in the races left to be completed to clinch the title.

Derrike Cope and Brendon Ash failed to qualify for the forty-three car field.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Rusty Wallace , Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports