Young drivers to lead pack Sunday at Chicagoland

Joliet, Ill. - Rookie Ryan Newman recorded the fastest lap time today in 29.500 seconds at 183.051 mph for the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Tropicana 400. Newman's orbit of the track in his ...

Joliet, Ill. - Rookie Ryan Newman recorded the fastest lap time today in 29.500 seconds at 183.051 mph for the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Tropicana 400. Newman's orbit of the track in his #12 Ford was 0.074 seconds faster than outside pole winner Kurt Busch #97 Ford.

"It's a fun racetrack," said Newman. "It's got pretty good banking so [the car] sticks really good." It is Newman's third career Bud Pole and second this season. "Without a doubt, we have the potential to become a definite contender every weekend."

Newman, second place in the Raybestos Rookie standings and Busch, a second year driver, will be immediately followed by veteran Dodge drivers Bill Elliott and current points leader Sterling Marlin, who make up the second row Sunday. Micheal Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Dave Blaney, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Joe Nemechek round out the next three rows.

Busch's second spot marks his third near pole of the season. "We were going for it on lap one," he said. "It came up just a bit shy. It's hard to know where we're losing it at because we've qualified second three times now this year. We just haven't broken through for that pole.

Elliott continued his long history of favorable qualifying positions.  "I'm
real proud of the guys," he said.  We changed some things right before
qualifying and it worked.  We'll just have to see where it ends up."

Forty-six year old Elliot also commented on the success of young drivers like Newman and Busch. "Both Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman are the guys to beat each race," he said. "You can't compare the era I came in to today. You can't compare the way I came into the sport and the way they have." When Elliott started racing Winston Cup in 1976, young teams - and all teams - had much less financial support. Drivers could not concentrate solely on driving like they can today and had to work on their own cars much more frequently than today.

Sunday will mark the tenth top-10 starts of the season for both Newman and Elliott.

Todd Bodine, who earlier claimed the Bud Pole for Saturday's Tropicana Twister 300 Busch Series race will start Sunday from the 14th spot.

Raybestos Rookie points leader Jimmie Johnson required the first provisional of his career to make the field and will start 37th. Other drivers starting with provisionals are Ricky Rudd, Jimmy Spencer, Bobby Hamilton, Casey Atwood, Steve Grissom and Stacy Compton. The four drivers who failed to qualify for the race were Ron Hornaday, Kirk Shelmerdine, Tony Raines and Scott Wimmer.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Stacy Compton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tony Raines , Jimmie Johnson , Kirk Shelmerdine , Scott Wimmer , Steve Grissom , Dave Blaney