Qualifying: Newman takes another pole

Ryan Newman claimed his NASCAR-best sixth pole of the season in a blazing-hot qualifying session for the Southern 500 at the historic Darlington Raceway. Jimmie Johnson will start from the outside of the front-row

Qualifying: Newman takes another pole

The Penske South driver set a fastest lap of 29.090s (169.048mph) around the egg-shaped 1.366-mile oval, edging Johnson by just 0.032s. As well as leading the series in pole positions Newman also leads in victories scored, with five.

"It's wasn't a good lap time, but it was a good run and I really enjoy this racetrack," said Newman. "I've got a good team, and I've been able to keep it out of the fence here. That's a pretty good combination."

Terry Labonte qualified a surprise third, just behind his Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Johnson. Elliot Sadler and Bobby Labonte round out the top five. Runaway Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth will start from sixth position, and once again edged the majority of his championship rivals.

Dale Earnhardt Jr, currently second in the points table, will start 12th, with third place man Kevin Harvick lining up 18th. Jeff Gordon, currently fifth in the points standings, qualified 14th.

Controversial man-of the-moment Kurt Busch struggled in qualifying, and will line up 31st on the grid. He still did better than former 'sparring partner' Jimmy Spencer. The Ultra Motorsports driver, returning after a week's suspension following his fight with Busch, hit the wall hard in his Dodge Intrepid and failed to set a time. He was forced to use a provisional starting spot, and will begin the race in 38th position.

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