Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR NOTEBOOK; Newman Takes Pole for MBNA 400

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR NOTEBOOK; Newman Takes Pole for MBNA 400

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE, The Times-Union

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Ryan Newman might be out of contention for the Chase of the Championship, but it hasn't slowed him down.

On Friday night, he won his third consecutive pole position, turning a lap of 191.575 mph at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Newman is ninth of 10 drivers competing for the championship, 266 points behind heading into Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. And while he probably won be able to catch series leader Kurt Busch, he hopes to rally in the last four races by leading laps and winning races.

"Until we're mathematically out of it, count me in," he said. "We definitely still have a shot. Bonus points (for leading laps) are at a premium. One step at a time; one lap at a time. It's going to take some bad luck for the other teams, but we're going to continue to strive to do our best, no matter what."

Joe Nemechek, who's won two of the last five poles, qualified second at 191.318 mph.

"I hate getting beat by a little bit," Nemechek said. "We've been on a roll for the last couple months."

Elliott Sadler was third at 191.080 mph, followed by Carl Edwards at 190.988, Greg Biffle at 190.561, Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 189.876, Mark Martin at 189.740, Jimmie Johnson at 189.500, Kevin Harvick at 189.448 and Jeff Gordon at 189.280.

Busch, who leads Gordon by 96 points, qualified 22nd at 187.722 mph.

Newman now has a series-best eight pole positions. He said he was surprised that the cooler night temperatures didn't help create faster speeds.

"I thought we would have gone a little faster, but the humidity and dew and everything else slowed the cars down a little bit," he said. "That's the toughest part. We have no excuses now. We've proved we're the fastest race car on a given lap. You have to do that for 60 laps in a row [during a fuel run] here. It's definitely not an easy task. …

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