Team ALLTEL Qualifies 10Th In Martinsville
April 12, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
And he shouldn’t. Newman qualified his No. 12 ALLTEL Ford 10th for Sunday’s NASCAR Winston Cup Series Virginia 500 with a lap of 93.701 mph Friday afternoon.
Jeff Gordon won the pole with a fast lap of 94.181 mph. Bobby Hamilton was second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Spencer and Newman.
Newman was second fastest in the morning practice session and was hoping for a shot at the pole, but he’ll take a Top 10 start for Sunday’s race.
“That’s not bad for the first time here, but we had a car that was second in practice and we didn’t follow up with it in qualifying,” Newman said. I just couldn’t get a real good bite on the racetrack. I was spinning my tires pretty hard on both laps and I guess it’s just being my first time adapting to Martinsville. I guess I’ll have to learn.”
It took Gordon a while to adapt to Martinsville. He now has three victories and two poles there.
Newman said he’ll give himself a little time to adjust to the tight 0.526-mile oval.
“I’m happy to have come here and tested and to be able to use the test to our advantage and qualify pretty decent,” Newman said. “Congratulations to Jeff, he did an awesome job. It’s hard to get that extra little hundredth or two-hundredths out of the car at a place like this, and he’s a master at it.”
Newman was the highest qualifying rookie on Friday afternoon in his ALLTEL Ford, besting Jimmie Johnson, who qualified 14th.
“I think Jimmie wasn’t far off of us,” Newman said. “He came here and tested at the same time we did. Five hundredths of a second can be the difference between 10th and 15th or 20th, so it’s just purely a matter of how good a lap you get. We’re definitely happy to qualify in the Top 10. I wish we could have done better because I think we had a car that was capable of being better, but I don’t think that makes us any different from any other rookie.”
Newman comes into the weekend in 12th place in the Winston Cup points standings.
“We’ve had a great start to the year,” Newman said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re still sitting 12th in points and I’m just happy to have a good top-10 qualifying effort here at Martinsville for the ALLTEL Ford.”