Newman rides momentum, claims pole for MBNA 400

Saturday, September 24, 2005

DOVER, Del. -- Ryan Newman won two poles at Dover International Speedway, taking the top spot for the Nextel Cup race Friday after qualifying first for his moonlighting start in a Busch series event.

Riding the momentum of a victory at New Hampshire International Speedway, Newman drove his Dodge around The Monster Mile at 158.102 mph to easily claim his series-leading sixth pole in NASCAR's top circuit. He'll start first Sunday in the MBNA 400, a pole winner for the 33rd time in just his fifth year in Cup racing.

Newman credited crew chief Matt Borland and his team.

"I told Matt, 'You give me a straight arrow and I'll shoot it,"' Newman said. "They keep giving me straight arrows. I'm out here representing the team."

Newman loves winning poles.

"There' no traffic, just clean air," he explained.

The defending race champion also will be trying to win for the fourth time in his last five starts on the high-banked concrete oval where he swept the races two years ago. Newman will be looking to again move up in the standings. His win last Sunday in New Hampshire vaulted him from 10th to a tie for third -- 40 points behind leader Tony Stewart -- after the first of 10 races among the top 10 that will decide the championship.

Earlier Friday, Newman knocked Busch series points leader Martin Truex Jr. off the pole in qualifying for Saturday's Dover 200. Newman has four poles at Dover, two in each division.

No one came close to Newman's Dodge in Cup qualifying. Still, temperatures approaching 90 degrees kept speeds down, and there was threatening of Jeremy Mayfield's 15-month-old mark of 161.522.

Kasey Kahne was second-fastest with a fast lap at 157.074, making it an all-Dodge front row.

"It was a good lap, we ran about the same as we did in practice," Kahne said. "We practiced a lot of race setups. I think we have a top-five race car."

Rookie Kyle Busch qualified third at 156.849, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who went 156.617, and two-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson, at 156.569. That gave Chevrolets the third through fifth positions on the grid.

"Once we unloaded here, I thought we had a chance to qualify in the top 10," Busch said. "So that was definitely a good run for us."

Newman teammate Rusty Wallace, a three-time winner here, will line up sixth in a field of 43. Four-time Dover winner Mark Martin, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Joe Nemechek and reigning series champion Kurt Busch completed the top 10.

Stewart will start 31st.

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