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NASCAR NEWS 

Newman on Martinsville pole

Ryan Newman claimed pole position for Sunday's Sprint Cup series race at Martinsville Speedway.

The Stewart Haas Racing driver, who currently ranks eighth in the Chase standings, beat Jeff Gordon's benchmark with a lap of 19.563 seconds at an average speed of 96.795 mph, claiming his second pole position of the season.

The session went ahead on schedule despite some rain in the morning, which forced a delay in practice. More rain is expected for Saturday and some teams worked already in preparation for race day, as it looks possible that both of Saturday's sessions could end up being washed out.

"It has been a pleasure to drive all day," said Newman after scoring his 45th Sprint Cup series career pole. "I'm kind of looking forward to practice tomorrow getting rained out. We'll see. I think it was a really good lap, it felt really nice. I tried to get too much out of my second lap and got loose out of (turn) four."

Gordon, a seven-time winner at Martinsville, got beaten to pole position by 0.056 seconds. Before his run, it had been his Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Mark Martin who held provisional pole after being fastest in practice, but the veteran ended up fourth, beaten by Martin Truex Jr also.

David Reutimann was fifth and the fastest Toyota qualifier ahead of Casey Mears, while rookie Joey Logano impressed with seventh fastest as Chase contenders ended up spread throughout the order, many of them in the lower half of the leaderboard.

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson had a less than perfect run to 15th fastest, ending up way behind his main contenders for the championship and the lowest qualifier among the Hendrick Motorsports drivers.

Juan Pablo Montoya had been second fastest in practice and looked a likely contender for pole but ended up only 21st. It was also a disappointing session for other title contenders such as Kurt Busch, who ended up 37th in the starting order for Sunday's race.

Scott Speed was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 18th, while Josh Wise was the only driver who failed to get a place in the field.

Pos  Driver              Make        Speed     Time
 1.  Ryan Newman         Chevrolet   96.795    19.563
 2.  Jeff Gordon         Chevrolet   96.519    19.619 + 0.056
 3.  Martin Truex Jr     Chevrolet   96.509    19.621 + 0.058
 4.  Mark Martin         Chevrolet   96.504    19.622 + 0.059
 5.  David Reutimann     Toyota      96.117    19.701 + 0.138
 6.  Casey Mears         Chevrolet   96.054    19.714 + 0.151
 7.  Joey Logano         Toyota      96.034    19.718 + 0.155
 8.  Bobby Labonte       Ford        96.010    19.723 + 0.160
 9.  Reed Sorenson       Dodge       95.995    19.726 + 0.163
10.  Kevin Harvick       Chevrolet   95.908    19.744 + 0.181
11.  David Stremme       Dodge       95.903    19.745 + 0.182
12.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Chevrolet   95.830    19.760 + 0.197
13.  Tony Stewart        Chevrolet   95.825    19.761 + 0.198
14.  David Ragan         Ford        95.815    19.763 + 0.200
15.  Jimmie Johnson      Chevrolet   95.777    19.771 + 0.208
16.  A.J. Allmendinger   Dodge       95.772    19.772 + 0.209
17.  Denny Hamlin        Toyota      95.762    19.774 + 0.211
18.  Scott Speed         Toyota      95.607    19.806 + 0.243
19.  Clint Bowyer        Chevrolet   95.578    19.812 + 0.249
20.  Greg Biffle         Ford        95.574    19.813 + 0.250
21.  Juan Montoya        Chevrolet   95.545    19.819 + 0.256
22.  Jeff Burton         Chevrolet   95.501    19.828 + 0.265
23.  Jamie McMurray      Ford        95.477    19.833 + 0.270
24.  Brian Vickers       Toyota      95.429    19.843 + 0.280
25.  Travis Kvapil       Dodge       95.381    19.853 + 0.290
26.  Kasey Kahne         Dodge       95.371    19.855 + 0.292
27.  John Andretti       Chevrolet   95.333    19.863 + 0.300
28.  Joe Nemechek        Toyota      95.304    19.869 + 0.306
29.  Carl Edwards        Ford        95.275    19.875 + 0.312
30.  Paul Menard         Ford        95.271    19.876 + 0.313
31.  Sam Hornish Jr      Dodge       95.242    19.882 + 0.319
32.  Matt Kenseth        Ford        95.232    19.884 + 0.321
33.  Robby Gordon        Toyota      95.223    19.886 + 0.323
34.  Marcos Ambrose      Toyota      95.194    19.892 + 0.329
35.  David Gilliland     Chevrolet   95.070    19.918 + 0.355
36.  Michael Waltrip     Toyota      94.984    19.936 + 0.373
37.  Kurt Busch          Dodge       94.889    19.956 + 0.393
38.  Sterling Marlin     Dodge       94.789    19.977 + 0.414
39.  Dave Blaney         Toyota      94.689    19.998 + 0.435
40.  Elliott Sadler      Dodge       94.661    20.004 + 0.441
41.  Kyle Busch          Toyota      94.652    20.006 + 0.443
42.  Michael McDowell    Toyota      94.637    20.009 + 0.446
43.  Derrike Cope        Toyota      93.539    20.244 + 0.681
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