Newman Takes Pole For Aaron's 312 In First NNS Start of Season
It didn’t take long for Ryan Newman to make his presence felt in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Newman is making his first Nationwide Series start of the season in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway, and his debut is off to a strong start after he captured the pole position during qualifying Friday afternoon.
Driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc., Newman turned a fast lap of 185.877 mph to nip Brian Vickers for the pole. Vickers will start on the outside of the front row after posting a qualifying speed of 185.531.
It is the 12th career Nationwide pole for Newman in 41 starts, but it his first pole of any type at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I have to thank Kevin and Delana (Harvick) for the opportunity to drive the car,” Newman said. “It’s the same car Kevin had at Daytona (where he also started on the pole), so it’s proven to be a fast car. We’re just trying to get it to Victory Lane.
“I love to race, and this was a good opportunity. We’ve had no issues with this car. We just ran a few laps yesterday, and put it on the pole today. This is a fun place when you have a really fast race car.”
Matt Kenseth qualified third with a speed of 185.291. He will be followed by Jason Leffler in fourth (185.205) and Bobby Gerhart fifth (185.144). Carl Edwards, who won three of the first seven Nationwide poles this season, qualified sixth (184.908).
Rounding out the top 10 are Clint Bowyer in seventh (184.580), rookie Scott Lagasse Jr. eighth (184.580), Nationwide points leader Kyle Busch ninth (184.534) and Brad Keselowski 10th (184.459). Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 12th (184.395)
Johnny Chapman, Justin Hobgood, Scott Wimmer and Alabama native Mike Harmon failed to qualify.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars have won all seven Nationwide Series races so far this season, and they hold 10 of the top 16 spots in the starting lineup for the Aaron’s 312. But none of that bothers Leffler, who will be the highest-starting Nationwide regular in Saturday’s race.
“They’re the stars of our sport. They’re the guys you gauge yourself off of who drive for the best teams,” Leffler said. “But I enjoy it. Bring them all on. It just makes the competition tougher, and at the end of the day when you beat those guys it makes you feel pretty good.
“We’re all pretty confident we can run with them. We all kind of like being the underdog and trying to prove people wrong. We can run with the Cup regulars, for sure. Hopefully pretty soon we can start to get some of these Nationwide regulars a few wins.”
The 117-lap Aaron’s 312 is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday.
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.
Race fans should make plans now to experience part of Talladega’s history in 2009 during the triple-header, Aaron’s Dream Weekend, April 24-26, featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For tickets, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday- Friday.
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