Newman One And Done
November 4, 2005 | 1:41 P.M. EST
The winner of seven poles prior to this weekend had a lap time of 27.987, 192.947 mph to obtain the pole for the running of the Dickies 500 on Sunday. Unlike other drivers, however, Newman decided to run his second lap and hit the wall coming off of turn 4.
"Something broke in the right front. I'm not sure what it was," said Newman. "Something just happened, and I don't know what it was. That's part of it. We've struggled this year. This is a good opportunity to prove we can do better."
While the record book will show that this was Newman's 35th pole in 150 NEXTEL Cup starts, he will be forced to start in the back of the field on Sunday since he moved to a backup car because of the damage on his primary racecar.
"It's definitely cooler today (as compared to when they tested a week ago)," said Newman, who also spun but did not hurt his car in practice earlier in the day. "The track has more rubber on it, and it's a little slicker, but it's basically the same track."
While the drop in starting positions is unfortunate for Newman, he still has a chance for victory on Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway. In 2002 Matt Kenseth was forced to the back of the field on this very track after he changed engines following qualifying, yet he was still able to charge to the front and capture the victory.
Second fastest on the day was Jeff Gordon, who had a lap time of 28.067, 192.397 mph.
"I'm very pleased with that. You never know what you’re going to get out there," said Gordon, who tied his best qualifying effort from 1997 at the track with today’s result. "I got a little bit tight in the middle of Turns 3 and 4, but other than that, the car just drove beautifully."
While qualifying third with a speed of 191.966 mph, Kenseth will actually slide into the inside line and start alongside Gordon on Sunday as a result of Newman's accident.
Joe Nemecheck and Jeremy Mayfield round out the top five qualifying positions.
Running a special "Geek Squad" paint scheme, Mike Bliss followed up his top spot in the only practice session of the day by qualifying sixth for Sunday.
Spring polesitter Greg Biffle finished the day with a time of 28.288, 191.299 mph which was good enough for a seventh starting position.
Mark Martin finished the day in eighth, while the holder of the track qualifying record, Bill Elliott, finished his run with a time of 28.268, 190.029 mph. That speed is good enough to get Elliott a ninth qualifying spot for Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounds out the top 10.
The "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" points leader, Tony Stewart, finished the day with a 16th qualifying position.
"We've just got to get through the motions and get through today," said Stewart, who will run the same car he won the Allstate 400 in. "I wish we didn't get the early draw that we did. It should be a good car for the whole weekend."
Despite turning in qualifying times, Robby Gordon, Johnny Sauter, P.J. Jones, Reed Sorenson and Stuart Kirby did not make this weekend's race.
The inaugural running of the Dickies 500 will take place Sunday at 3 p.m. (ET) live on NBC and PRN.