Newman claims Lowe's Cup pole

Ryan Newman claimed his fifth Nextel Cup pole position of the season at Lowe's Motor Speedway after setting the fastest lap in the late stages of qualifying for the Bank of America 500

Newman claims Lowe's Cup pole

The Penske driver set a time of 28.512 seconds at an average speed of 189.394 mph, knocking pre-race favourite Jimmie Johnson off pole position by just sixty hundredths of a second. Newman's pole is his seventh in 14 Nextel Cup starts at the 'Beast of the Southeast'.

"Qualifying was a matter of beating the 48 car (Johnson)," said Newman. "I had the advantage of knowing what he ran and I pushed my car to what I thought I needed to. It was a great lap for us; it was smooth. If I had to do it all over again I'd like to say I could do it better. Maybe not."

Johnson backed up his favouritism for this weekend by getting a front-row starting position for Saturday night's race. He was one of the last drivers in the queue for qualifying and benefitted from that, but he had already showed his strength in practice by going quickest.

"The car was maybe a little on the free side," Johnson said. "But I really don't think I left anything out there. I'm real proud of the lap we put in. We had a great run. We've had a very smooth day in the Busch car and in the Cup car and I'm looking forward to a good weekend."

Bobby Labonte held provisional pole for a while but his time got beaten later. Before that, it had been Chase leader Jeff Gordon sitting on provisional pole, having been the seventh car to complete his qualifying run when conditions were far from their best.

"I wasn't expecting to put up a qualifying lap like that," said Gordon. "I'm excited. I think it was a good run that kept us in the top ten. It was a much bigger pickup (from practice) than we thought."

Kasey Kahne, winner of both of last year's races at Lowe's Motor Speedway had a good qualifying as well, taking fifth on the grid in his No. 9 car which is among the few Dodges running the old nose as the team has struggled to make the new one work.

Another former Lowe's winner, Jamie McMurray, will share the third row of the grid with him.

Chase contenders Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch will share the fourth row of the grid, having run well in practice as well. Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch qualified 11th and 13th while Carl Edwards was 17th. The rest of the title contenders will start from outside the top 20.

Michael Waltrip made the race again and will start from the tenth row of the grid beside his teammate David Reutimann. However, the third car of his team driven by Dale Jarrett failed to make the race, along with Joe Nemechek, Brian Vickers, Carl Long and Kirk Shelmerdine.

Also, for the fourth consecutive time, former IRL and Indy 500 Champion Sam Hornish Jr failed to be quick enough to put his No. 06 Penske in the starting line-up for his Nextel Cup debut. He was 47th fastest in qualifying among 49 drivers.

Pos Driver Make Speed Time 1. Ryan Newman Dodge 189.394 28.512 2. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 188.990 28.573 + 0.061 3. Bobby Labonte Dodge 188.363 28.668 + 0.156 4. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 188.298 28.678 + 0.166 5. Kasey Kahne Dodge 188.088 28.710 + 0.198 6. Jamie McMurray Ford 188.075 28.712 + 0.200 7. Matt Kenseth Ford 188.016 28.721 + 0.209 8. Kurt Busch Dodge 187.898 28.739 + 0.227 9. Casey Mears Chevrolet 187.852 28.746 + 0.234 10. Greg Biffle Ford 187.585 28.787 + 0.275 11. Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 187.402 28.815 + 0.303 12. Mark Martin Chevrolet 187.214 28.844 + 0.332 13. Kyle Busch Chevrolet 187.188 28.848 + 0.336 14. Scott Riggs Dodge 187.078 28.865 + 0.353 15. Ward Burton Chevrolet 186.916 28.890 + 0.378 16. Elliott Sadler Dodge 186.883 28.895 + 0.383 17. Paul Menard Chevrolet 186.883 28.895 + 0.383 18. Carl Edwards Ford 186.819 28.905 + 0.393 19. Michael Waltrip Toyota 186.761 28.914 + 0.402 20. David Reutimann Toyota 186.748 28.916 + 0.404 21. David Gilliland Ford 186.703 28.923 + 0.411 22. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 186.516 28.952 + 0.440 23. Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 186.477 28.958 + 0.446 24. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 186.419 28.967 + 0.455 25. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 186.374 28.974 + 0.462 26. Reed Sorenson Dodge 186.322 28.982 + 0.470 27. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 186.149 29.009 + 0.497 28. David Stremme Dodge 186.034 29.027 + 0.515 29. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 185.842 29.057 + 0.545 30. A.J. Allmendinger Toyota 185.733 29.074 + 0.562 31. David Ragan Ford 185.701 29.079 + 0.567 32. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 185.637 29.089 + 0.577 33. Ricky Rudd Ford 185.490 29.112 + 0.600 34. Dave Blaney Toyota 185.452 29.118 + 0.606 35. Bill Elliott Ford 185.433 29.121 + 0.609 36. Juan Montoya Dodge 185.427 29.122 + 0.610 37. Jeff Green Chevrolet 184.887 29.207 + 0.695 38. Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 184.672 29.241 + 0.729 39. J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 184.628 29.248 + 0.736 40. Robby Gordon Ford 184.559 29.259 + 0.747 41. Tony Raines Chevrolet 183.874 29.368 + 0.856 42. Kyle Petty Dodge 183.617 29.409 + 0.897 43. John Andretti Dodge 184.508 29.267 + 0.755 
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