Qual: Newman's pole

Penske's Ryan Newman, fighting to hold a spot in NASCAR's Nextel Cup playoff picture, tore off a lap in 20.979s (128.700mph) to lock up the pole for Saturday night's 400 at Richmond International Raceway. This is the final race in the 'race for the chase' and after that, if you're not in the top ten, you're just racing for honour

Qual: Newman's pole

On a slick track during a warm, humid afternoon, Newman set the pace in practice, more than a tenth of a second ahead of Kasey Kahne and two-tenths ahead of Jimmie Johnson. He followed up in the time trials, nudging veteran Mark Martin from the top spot by more than a tenth.

Martin, on the bubble in NASCAR's "chase", was the early front-runner at 21.192s and barely fended off points leader Johnson, who ran 21.195s. Newman, 37th among 52 entries, then put up the session's fast time. Newman, 11-time pole winner last season, won his fifth of this year but only his second since early April.

Stone-faced, logical Newman isn't likely to rattle, despite being just 45 points above the cut-off mark. "It's like any other race," he said. "In the grand scheme of things it has more weight on it, but it's just another race. Like anything else, if you can stay focused and maintain your own mentality, you'll be fine.

"Actually, I've slept a lot this week, more than I should. I've been sick, and I'm still kind of sick. I'm still trying to get over it. I would have said I was 100 percent Wednesday, but I actually feel a little worse today."

Joe Nemechek earned the fourth position and Jeff Burton, in the improving RCR No. 30, was fifth. The two were tied at 21.225s, but Nemechek received the spot for making his run before Burton.

Jeff Gordon, second in points, will start ninth, and Dale Earnhardt, third in the standings, goes 14th. The others in the top 10, in order, are Tony Stewart (15th in trials), Matt Kenseth (16th), Elliott Sadler (20th), Kurt Busch (17th), Newman, Kahne (11th) and Martin.

Of those still with a shot at making the playoff, Jamie McMurray made only 36th, Bobby Labonte is 18th, Dale Jarrett goes 25th, Jeremy Mayfield starts seventh, and Kevin Harvick is 27th.

shares
comments
Sadler lights up California

Previous article

Sadler lights up California

Next article

Mayfield saves chase spot

Mayfield saves chase spot
Load comments
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR
Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021
Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines Plus

Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines

The American stock car scene is more famous for its close racing and occasional punch-ups, but there have been some fantastic machines too. As part of Autosport's 70th anniversary celebrations in 2020, we picked out five of its best

NASCAR
Jan 3, 2021
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Plus

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future

NASCAR
Nov 17, 2020