Newman takes 11th pole

Ryan Newman continued his domination of Winston Cup qualifying this year by taking his third consecutive pole in as many races for this weekend's event at Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina

Newman takes 11th pole

It is the 11th pole of the season for the Penske South start - the most that any Cup driver has scored since Bill Elliott's "awesome" season in 1985. However, with just one race of the season remaining after this weekend, Newman will be unable to break the modern era record of 14, set by Cale Yarborough in 1980.

"To me, winning 11 poles in a season means a lot from a driver's standpoint," said Newman. "It ties second for all-time most poles in a season. To me, that's a great feat. There's definitely a lot of great drivers in that category."

Meanwhile, rising freshman Brian Vickers continued to impress in just his third Winston Cup start. Vickers, who earlier in the afternoon won the pole for Saturday's Busch Series race, qualified second to Newman, just 0.011s behind.

Vickers, first man to try the clock, ran 23.533s (155.505mph), which stood until Newman, last driver out, clocked 23.533s (155.577mph). You would say that the last shall be first and the first shall be second.

Jeremy Mayfield ran 23.574s for third place, with surprising Tony Raines in fourth and "awesome" Bill himself in fifth.

All eyes this weekend are on the championship race, with Matt Kenseth leading Dale Earnhardt Jr. by what seems to be a safe 228 points. Kenseth needs only to finish 30th or better in the final two races to sew it up, and he can clinch it outright Sunday by finishing seventh or better.

Niether had a particularly great time in qualifying, however, Kenseth winding up 23rd with Earnhardt 26th.

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