Archive for Saturday, March 13, 2004

Newman tops qualifying

Vickers edged again at Atlanta Speedway

March 13, 2004

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— Ryan Newman nipped rookie Brian Vickers -- again -- and won the pole Friday for the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his fifth in the past seven races dating back to last season.

Three of those have come at the expense of Vickers, making only the eighth start of his NASCAR Nextel Cup career.

"I'm starting to get a little frustrated about this whole pole situation," Vickers said.

In just his third full season, Newman already has moved into 20th on the all-time list of top qualifiers. He had a series-high 11 in 2003 and has two in four races this season.

Newman's speed of 193.575 mph in a Dodge was more than 2 mph faster than his pole-winning effort a year ago at NASCAR's fastest track, thanks mostly to a softer tire brought by Goodyear.

"You run 200 here and it feels like it's 400," Newman said. "It's not me. I'm just the lucky nut behind the wheel. It's a team sport, and qualifying is no different than the race."

Vickers ran a lap of 192.634 -- about 0.14 seconds slower than Newman -- and edged teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. All were in Chevrolets. The Ford of Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five. Defending series champ Matt Kenseth, on a two-race winning streak, qualified 30th.

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