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Newman wins second consecutive Loudon pole

September 23, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

LOUDON, N.H. -- Rain fell with five remaining but Montoya only one outside top 10 when resumed

Rain or no rain -- it didn't matter to Ryan Newman, who won the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the second race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

After a rain delay halted Friday's qualifying session, Newman, the last driver to make an attempt, posted a lap at 135.002 mph (28.213 seconds) to knock Kasey Kahne (134.763 mph), who had preceded him on the track, out of the top spot.

The pole was Newman's third of the season and the 49th of his career. The driver of the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet won the July race at New Hampshire from the pole.

As the fastest driver in Friday's practice, Newman would have started from the top spot whether or not rain had washed out the session. Had he started first based on practice speed, however, he wouldn't have gotten credit for a pole.

Kahne's Red Bull Racing teammate, Brian Vickers, qualified before the rain delay, and his speed of 134.648 mph stood up for the third starting position. Greg Biffle (134.587 mph) will start fourth. Kurt Busch qualified fifth at 134.382 mph.

Newman made his pole-winning run on his only lap and then shut the car down, whereas many drivers had improved their speeds on a second of two laps.

"It took a little bit more [time] for my tires to fire up, as far as stick[ing], and that kind of scared me a little bit, but I ran the first lap just as I expected to, as I did in practice, and it was enough to win the pole," said Newman, who paced qualifying for the sixth time at the Magic Mile.

"Our car was typically quicker on the first lap and not the second in practice. I was glad I got him on the first lap, and [crew chief Tony] Gibson said, 'Shut her down,' and that was a good sign for me."

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The session stalled with five cars left on the grid when Juan Montoya declined to take to the track for his qualifying lap in a light rain. Montoya sat on pit road, as did the four cars behind him, including the No. 48 Chevrolet of five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

"Send out the No. 48, if he's so brave," Montoya said.

Instead, NASCAR sent out jet dryers, and though a light mist continued to fall, the track dried enough to resume the session. Montoya posted a lap that was 27th fastest at the time (31st after the end of the session) -- and wasn't happy about it.

"Our car was fast enough to sit on the pole, and we're 27th," Montoya said. "It's a freaking joke."

Johnson followed with a lap fast enough to secure the 10th starting position. Chase leader Kevin Harvick, who holds a seven-point margin on Tony Stewart, will start sixth.

The 12 Chase drivers will start as follows: Newman (first), Busch (fifth), Harvick (sixth), Jeff Gordon (seventh), Kyle Busch (eighth), Johnson (10th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12th), Brad Keselowski (16th), Tony Stewart (20th), Carl Edwards (23rd), Matt Kenseth (27th) and Denny Hamlin (28th).

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Ryan Newman claimed his 49th pole in his 360th start; his 49 poles keeps him in 10th place all time.
• This will be Ryan Newman's 13th top-10 start of the season, including six of the past seven races.
• Ryan Newman has won from the pole twice at New Hampshire, including in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 in July.
• This was the eighth pole in Stewart-Haas Racing's history, and the third this year for the team.
• Kasey Kahne (second) earned his fifth front-row start of the 2011 season.
• Brian Vickers (third) picked up his best starting position of the year.
• Greg Biffle (fourth) tied his best career start at New Hampshire for the third time; he's made 19 starts there.
• Kurt Busch (fifth) will start in the top five at Loudon for the ninth time in his career and fifth time in the past six races.
• Kevin Harvick (sixth) qualified in his best starting spot of the season.
• Six Chase drivers will start in the top 10; Denny Hamlin will start 28th, the worst of the Chasers.
• Ryan Newman ended a streak of eight consecutive races with different pole winners, the longest streak in 2011.
• The pole winner has finished 20th or worse in six of the past eight races.

Steve Park and T.J. Bell failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

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