Newman makes the right call: Dodge connects for Las Vegas Bud Pole Award


By John Bisci


Ryan Newman added yet another Bud Pole Award to his burgeoning collection after posting a lap of 173.745 mph in his ALLTEL/Mobil 1 Dodge Charger during qualifying for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.  It was the 28th Bud Pole Award of his still-young career and he now has won poles at 13 different NASCAR Nextel Cup Series venues.

¿That was pretty impressive on my part as far as just getting speed," Newman said after his qualifying run. "I felt like I pretty much nailed everything. If somebody else beats us, it's because they beat us.¿  Nobody beat him.  Newman¿s car was the third of 49 entries to make a qualifying attempt and all efforts to unseat him failed.

¿We¿re really happy,¿ Newman said, after winning the Bud Pole Award.  ¿We unloaded really fast with our ALLTEL/Mobil 1 Dodge Charger. It felt like we had a car capable of the pole right off the truck.  I don¿t think we had an advantage by any means going out when we did with the track cooling off, especially in turns one and two.  We were able to pull it off.  I was really worried about Greg Biffle going out later, but I¿m happy to get my first pole at Las Vegas for sure.  Historically, the Roush cars are dominant at this track.  We¿re just going to do our best and see how we stand up.¿

¿The (Dodge) Charger is here with performance on the track and performance in the showroom,¿ proclaimed Bob Wilderberger, senior manager, NASCAR operations, Dodge Motorsports.  ¿We just proved it in our third race out.  We¿re at the front of the pack going into the Las Vegas race.  I think we¿re ready to win a race now.¿

Newman played tourist on Thursday and visited Hoover Dam.  ¿It was a great deal.  People think it¿s neat to see it on a postcard or something like that, but it¿s really awesome to see it in person.¿

Elliott Sadler will join Newman on the front row.  Sadler¿s M&M¿s Ford toured the 1.5-mile superspeedway at 173.712 mph to claim the second starting position.

¿It¿s a great job by my guys,¿ Sadler said.  ¿We came here and tested (in January) and were very fast all week.  All we did was race runs and to come back and qualify this good.  We didn¿t have the best week that we should have had at Daytona.  We didn¿t blow anybody out at California.  We had a great top-10 car, but that was about it.  There¿s a ¿never quit¿ attitude on this team.  To come here and qualify second and to be that close to Ryan and to run that much faster than anybody else ¿ it was a great day for our team.¿

Greg Biffle qualified third in his National Guard Ford but was in no mood to celebrate.

¿Actually, truth be known, I feel terrible,¿ said Greg.  ¿I had a car to qualify on the pole here and any driver is disappointed when he doesn¿t live up to what he thinks he can do and what the car can do, but I¿m really happy to start third here I guess.  I¿m still kind of beating myself up and probably will half the night because of a small mistake I made in the third turn.  Ryan said he was watching (qualifying) on TV and I had him beat until I got right over there.  I got a little bit loose in the center and was probably trying too hard.  Hey, I can¿t complain with third.  The National Guard team has been giving me great cars.  Las Vegas hasn¿t been good to me in a Nextel Cup car.  I qualified eighth last year and twenty-some laps into the race, we lost an engine.  We¿re hoping to have a better run here on Sunday.¿

Scott Riggs had the fastest Chevrolet and qualified fourth, but will start at the rear of the field after changing his transmission.

Hometown hero and reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Kurt Busch will start fifth.

¿These new tires allow you to stick a little better and I wanted to test it,¿ said Kurt.  ¿I was starting to see three sevens line up, but we came up a bit short.¿

Kurt¿s brother, Kyle Busch, will start 10th in the Hendrick Motorsports Kellogg¿s Chevrolet.

Mark Martin will take his final green flag in as a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver in Las Vegas in 19th position.

Rusty Wallace will start his final Las Vegas race as a NASCAR Nextel Cup driver in 21st position.

¿I got down into (turns) one and two and couldn¿t pick up the throttle like I needed to.  Then in three and four it was the worst.  I got in there good and started sliding.  I hate to wait on the throttle.  I think we got the rear end too stiff for qualifying, but I think I¿ve got a real good setup for the race.¿

Despite qualifying in different rows, Wallace and Martin will ride together in the first vehicle during pre-race driver introductions. 

Kevin Harvick qualified fourth but was penalized by NASCAR officials after it was discovered his team had violated a new mandate.  NASCAR qualifying rules call for a car to qualify with a full tank of fuel.  In the past, only a few gallons of gasoline were poured into the cars¿ tanks in an effort to save weight during time trials.  NASCAR checks the fuel cell both before and after qualifying.  According to a report published on, Harvick¿s car was found to be four gallons short of a 22-gallon load.  "The vent line was blocked, and the fuel filler was blocked so fuel flowed into the vent line, making the fuel cell appear it was full," said Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby.  As a result, Harvick will have to start the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 in 42nd place.

Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award contender Travis Kavpil qualified eighth.

Johnny Sauter, Kevin Lepage, Stanton Barrett, Stan Boyd, Carl Long and Kirk Shelmerdine failed to qualify.