Indiana native Ryan Newman wins Brickyard 400 pole
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or email@example.com July 27, 2013 8:56PM
Ryan Newman smiles after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday, July 27, 2013. Newman won the pole with a speed of 187.531 mph. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Updated: August 30, 2013 6:48AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Before Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying for the Brickyard 400, five-time series champ and four-time Brickyard champ Jimmie Johnson had a premonition.
“We’re running fast here this week and I expect some track records,” he said.
Make that nine times that the old NASCAR track record of 186.293 miles per hour (set by Casey Mears in 2004) was broken on Saturday.
Johnson was the first to break it as the 11th driver on the track in the qualifying lineup.
The top nine qualifying speeds all broke Mears’ mark, but it was the last driver, Ryan Newman, who broke Johnson’s speed by a tenth of a second (187.531 to 187.438 mph) , or the mathematical equivalent of 6½ feet.
It’s Newman’s 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole, but first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making it especially gratifying for the South Bend native.
“I guess I did my part of my homework (watching every other driver) and the crew definitely did their homework,” said Newman, whose car is owned by fellow Indiana native Tony Stewart, who qualified fifth. “That’s the benefit of going out last. You can see and watch. You can see where guys are making the most time.”
Johnson knew it would be tough to survive 34 other drivers to earn the pole as the defending race champion, especially since it was Newman.
“Ryan’s really good at qualifying and when I saw the 14 car (Stewart) do well, I knew (Newman) would be tough,” Johnson said.
Newman said getting the pole at this track was special.
“I’ll admit I was emotional,” he said. “It’s special because it’s the Brickyard and I hadn’t won a pole in so long (September, 2011). My sister lives on the west side (of Indianapolis), so I still have Indiana roots. That doesn’t make me go any faster, but it does make it more gratifying.”
When asked why it had been so long, Newman provided a moment of levity.
“I woke up this morning and thought, ‘maybe I’ll try harder today,’ ” he joked. “I guess I waited for a special moment — Indianapolis and getting the last qualifying run.”
Among the other drivers who broke the previous qualifying record, Carl Edwards has the third spot, Denny Hamlin fourth, former Indy 500 champ Juan Pablo Montoya eighth and four-time Brickyard champ Jeff Gordon in ninth.