NASCAR: Newman on pole
By Dan Gelston
LOUDON, N.H. — Stewart-Haas Racing finally gets top billing.
Ryan Newman won his 47th career pole, turning a track-record lap of 135.232 mph Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Tony Stewart was second to give SHR its first front-row sweep.
Stewart was right behind his employee and teammate at 135.064. They were the only drivers to top 135 mph.
“Awesome for the organization,” Stewart said.
Newman won his first pole of the season in the No. 39 Chevrolet, a far cry from the 20 combined poles he earned in 2003-04. Those pole positions early in his career helped boost his total and he’s now 10th on the career poles list, including a record five poles at New Hampshire.
“It works,” he said. “It’s like making good macaroni and cheese. Sometimes, it just tastes good. I don’t know what the entire chemistry is, but I like it.”
It’s the sixth pole for Stewart-Haas Racing, but the first time both SHR Chevrolets will start side-by-side at the front of the field.
“I felt really confident in practice today that we would have a shot at the pole today just based on the way the car felt,” Newman said.
Newman hopes the strong start will translate into his first victory of the season. Newman enters Sunday’s Sprint Cup race ninth in the points standings.
“Without a doubt I have higher expectations; when you have the fastest race car you have no excuse,” Newman said. “It’s just a matter of making it the fastest car or the best race car on the last lap, given you have the right position and the right strategy and do the things that are needed to put yourself in that position.”
David Reutimann, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski round out the top five.
“We’re finally running like we’re supposed to,” Reutimann said.
Stewart is 11th in the points standings, one shy of cracking the top 10 needed to make the Chase. Stewart, a two-time Cup champion, typically heats up during the summer races.
He hasn’t found the answers yet and hasn’t won a race this year.
“I am frustrated because I keep having to answer the question,” he said. “I mean, are you happy when things aren’t going the way you like it to go? Makes you frustrated doesn’t it? So yes, we’re frustrated.”
The rest of the top 10 are: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne.