Newman Tops In Bizarre Qualifying In Loudon
Ryan Newman won the pole on Friday for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
To get the pole, Newman had to wait out a rain delay that began with him and four other drivers still in the pits and waiting to qualify.
Second on the starting grid will be Kasey Kahne and third will be his Red Bull Racing teammate, Brian Vickers.
Rounding out the to five were Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch.
The five drivers who did not qualify before the delay were hoping the entire session would be washed out because they would have started the race from the top five position on the starting grid as a result of their speeds in Friday’s practice.
It turned out not to matter as Newman, one of the five, won the pole after the delay.
Asked if he thought the rain had made the track slower, Newman said, “I don’t think so. If you look at what guys are picking up in qualifying over practice, it was two to three tenths and that’s right where we were. I think because of the conditions, it was cloudy all day; the track dryers probably put a little bit of heat back into the race track that the rain kind of washed out, so I think it all kind of averaged out. I was really proud of our guys to go through something like that and still be able to capitalize on it.”
Second on the starting grid, based on practice, would have been Kahne. He would have been followed by followed by Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Montoya, first in line, balked at leaving pit road, saying the track was too damp. When he did go out, he qualified 31st.
Kurt Busch said during the break that it was not raining at all and that the series has qualified in worse conditions.
“I’m glad we got qualifying in,” Kahne said. “We ended up in the same spot, but I just wish it would have kept going. It wasn’t raining hard enough when they stopped where I was. Maybe in three or something it could have been. Then it just delayed everything. I think the track would have been better if we ran with a little bit of sprinkles where it’s not affecting the race track just some of those guys don’t want to go when it’s like that. I wasn’t in position to go and Kenny (Francis, crew chief) wouldn’t let me go once the other three said no. I had no chance, but if I was the first car there I’d have rolled off for sure.”
Gordon initially argued the other way as he sat in his car saying conditions could be dangerous. After going out after the delay and qualifying seventh, he said, “I wasn’t expecting the pole to come there in those final six cars. The track was obviously better than we anticipated. You know it’s going to rain any second now. I think the track conditions were not that bad. I still wouldn’t have wanted to have been Juan Pablo (Montoya). I hated it for him. But for when we went out, I felt like we were a little bit too free, which we were on the edge of that in practice anyway. So, 7th; I was hoping to be a little bit better than that, but it’s still not a bad day.”
(This story will be updated shortly)