Starting on point is nothing new for Ryan Newman, who drove into New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday with 50 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series poles. He drove out with 51, setting a new Magic Mile qualifying record in the process. Newman rocketed around the 1.058-mile oval at a speed of 136.497 mph (27.904 seconds), breaking Brad Keselowski's record of 135.922 mph (28.022 seconds), putting him at the front of the starting grid for Sunday's SYLVANIA 300, the second race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon also broke the 28-second mark, and will start second and third, respectively.
"That was as fast as I could go," said Newman, who scored his second pole of the season and the seventh of his career in 24 starts at NHMS. "This is the birthplace of track position. I am to be in this position where it probably means the most."
Eight drivers in the top 10 are Chase drivers, with Kurt Busch (fourth), Joey Logano (sixth), Kevin Harvick (eighth), Matt Kenseth (ninth) and Greg Biffle (10th) also starting toward the front. Martin Truex Jr. (fifth) and Paul Menard (seventh) also qualified in the top 10.
Other Chaser's starting positions include Jimmie Johnson (11th), Kyle Busch (12th), Clint Bowyer (16th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (17th) and Carl Edwards (26th).
Kahne, who won last year's July race at NHMS, posted his 17th top-10 of the season and his ninth in 20 starts in Loudon. Kahne trails points leader Kenseth by 31 points in the standings.
"I think the time we put down with an early draw was solid," said Kahne. "I could have gone quicker if I had hit Turn 2 a little better, but we have good speed. Our Great Clips Chevy is strong; we have a strong car for the weekend."
Gordon took the pole in last September's SYLVANIA 300. And despite a first qualifying lap that would have left him in the middle of the pack, Gordon turned on the jets in lap two, breaking the old track qualifying record and putting himself in strong position heading into Sunday.
"If there's ever a time to peak, it's during the Chase," said Gordon, who is 24 points behind Kenseth in the standings. "I was shaking a bit when I got out of the car because that first lap was so hairy. We had a lot of ground to make up, so when they said I was third I was really excited."
Sunday will mark the 500th-career start for points leader Kenseth, who has a special paint scheme to commemorate the occasion. Kenseth won last Sunday's marathon at Chicagoland Speedway and holds an eight-point lead over Kyle Busch in the standings.
The Chase is on as NASCAR's best will race for "Loudon the Lobster" on Sunday. A limited number of seats for both Saturday and Sunday's events are still available. To purchase tickets please visit the Ticket Office, call the NHMS ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931 or by visiting www.nhms.com.