Newman turns stunning lap

Ryan Newman took his fourth successive pole position and ninth of the season at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday. Where intervals are normally measured in thousandths of a second, Newman blew away the grid with a lap nearly four-tenths faster than anyone else

Newman turns stunning lap

"You almost laugh about it," said Brian Vickers, who fell just short in a one-two with Newman here last year. "You worry when you miss it by 0.007, but no way are you going to make up four-tenths.

Newman ran the second of his two laps in 26.499sec (135.854mph), with Vickers far in the distance at 26.890s. Newman battered team-mate Rusty Wallace's former track standard (26.830s) by nearly the same margin as he outran Vickers.

The gap between Newman and Vickers was 0.391sec. The gap between Vickers and 24th-place Jeremy Mayfield was 0.390.

"That's pretty incredible," third-place Joe Nemechek said. "He ran fast like that in practice. I asked him going out to the starting line, 'How'd you do it?' He looked at me and said, 'I'm going to do it again.'"

Nemechek, finishing strong this year, ran 26.937s, with Kasey Kahne fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.

Newman once again faced the question about why he and his team have not converted their poles into wins. Newman won eight times last year to lead the series but has won only twice this year. Jimmie Johnson has won the three races over Newman's erstwhile three-week pole streak.

"We won from the pole last year at Dover once or twice, so we can prove it happens," Newman said. "In fact, I believe my first win at Loudon was from the pole. I don't think there's a specific weakness or weaknesses. I think it's just some variables. We've had some bad luck.

Newman laughed. "When I first came along, everybody said, 'Man, Newman sure can qualify.' This year [11 poles], everybody's saying, 'That team sure can qualify, but what's wrong with Newman in the races?'"

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