Apparently, NASCAR saved the best for last during Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. Ryan Newman went out last of 45 during pole qualifying for Sunday’s Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard and turned in a 47.992-second lap to knock Jimmie Johnson from the pole and to set a new track qualifying record at Indy.
“Well, I guess mostly just based off practice,” I thought we were a contender,” Newman said. “My real gauge, I think, today was Tony Stewart. We were viturally identical in practice speeds, and when he went out and qualified fourth (Newman’s lap pushed Stewart to fifth), I knew that there was still grip in the racetrack and that I had a shot at it.”
Johnson held the provisional pole spot throughout most of the qualifying session, going out 11 and posting a time of 48.015 seconds. But with Newman’s lap at the end of the session, Johnson was moved down a notch to second. He’ll start on the front row next to Newman on Sunday, giving Chevrolet a sweep of the front row.
“I think when you look through the top four or five cars, it was very, very tight, and I had some close calls, including with Carl (Edwards) and the great lap he had.”
Ford and Toyota share the second row, with Carl Edwards in third and Denny Hamlin fourth.
“We have a fast race car, and I’m pretty proud of that lap,” Edwards said. “If I did it again, I don’t know that I could go any faster; that was a pretty good lap.”
Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five in qualifying. Sixth through 10th were Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Juan Montoya, Jeff Gordon and Marcos Ambrose.
Two drivers failed to make the 43-car race — Mike Bliss and Scott Speed.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR