Newman paces final practice at Darlington

Ryan Newman has once again shown that he has the fastest hot rod in the NEXTEL Cup garage. Newman bested the field in final practice at Darlington posting a lap of 167.647 mph. "We've proved we've got a fast racecar, and it would be a big...

Ryan Newman has once again shown that he has the fastest hot rod in the NEXTEL Cup garage. Newman bested the field in final practice at Darlington posting a lap of 167.647 mph.

"We've proved we've got a fast racecar, and it would be a big feather in our caps if we could win the last Southern 500," said Newman. "We've got a shot at it. We've finished second here before and had a lot of top five and top 10 runs. We were third in the spring after coming back from a lap down.

"We hit the kill switch in this race last year and we hit the cones coming in the pits in the spring. I've bit myself twice, and we'll try not to get bit again."

Jimmie Johnson was second quickest but has already put a 'Darlington stripe' on the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy. Johnson rubbed the wall causing minor cosmetic damage on his ride as he posted a lap of 167.642 mph.

Carl Edwards continues to impress charting the third fastest time with a lap of 167.208 mph. Edwards has garnered one top-five and four top-10's in just 12 Cup starts.

Kasey Kahne was fourth speediest despite meeting with the wall during final practice. He crashed into the wall in turn four. Kahne suffered heavy damage on the No. 9 Dodge and will also have to start the race from the back of the pack in a back-up car. Kahne was due to start 13th.

"I just got loose," said Kahne. "It was really, really loose and we tightened it up and it was still loose. I just stayed out a little bit too long and ended up crashing. The car was really good, but it was just too loose.

"Hopefully the back up car will be better. The team did a good job getting the backup ready in time to get out on the track to see where we were at with it. We've got to work on some of the things inside of it, but it felt pretty good. We'll change the motor and put a better engine in it. We'll be all right. We'll change the seat insert, seat belts, mirror, steering and motor. It'll be all right starting in the back. I don't mind that. I just wish I hadn't torn up that racecar."

Mark Martin completes the top five with a 166.789 mph.

The field for the running of Sunday's last Southern 500 was set by owner points due to inclement weather on qualifying day. That placed the Chase for the Championship contenders in the top ten spots when the green flag waves at Darlington Sunday.

Pole sitter and series leader Kurt Busch posted the 16th quickest lap with a time of 165.256 mph.

More troubles for the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford team of Elliott Sadler. Sadler smacked the wall during final practice. Sadler's team elected not to repair the damage and will be forced to start from the rear of the field in a back-up car. Disappointing break for Team 38 who has had a disastrous second half of the Chase for the Championship, they were set to take the green flag from the eighth spot for the last running of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

"I really don't know what happened," said Sadler. "The first car had been working great all day and I really wasn't up to speed yet. I just let the 18 car pass and when I went into turn three it just didn't turn.

"It just kept straight, so either I was up just a little bit too high and got in the gravel or what, I don't know. I saw some other guys have problems with that corner (three and four). I was behind Ricky Rudd right there at the end and he did the same thing."

Ricky Rudd will join Sadler and Kahne at the rear of the field. Rudd hit in a similar spot to Sadler forcing the No. 21 Ford team to also resort to their back-up car.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Robert Yates , Mark Martin
Teams Yates Racing