50 years of racing at Charlotte has brought millions of memories and stories for fans and drivers alike. After qualifying this Thursday, there is one more memory in the books, highlighted by Ryan Newman. Newman scored his 44th career pole with a lap of 28.651 seconds and a speed of 188.475 miles per hour. Newman leads active drivers with 8 career poles at Charlotte, which now puts him more than half way to David Pearson’s 14 career poles at the track. Newman said he had talked to Pearson at Darlington and he :thinks he is one of the greatest drivers of all time and the numbers he put up are amazing.”
The qualifying went by very quickly thanks to a vast majority of drivers taking a single lap. The tires that Goodyear brought to the track this weekend seem to have their maximum grip right at the beginning so people were not able to gain any time on a second lap.
Newman noted that he’s going to call a meeting in the NASCAR hauler to make sure that the first lap doesn’t end up like that race for the lead at the end of the All-Star race. He is honored to be driving the car for the U.S. Army and to have worked his way back into the top 10 for all-time poles. He also feels as though the team has made great strides and they may be taking tomorrow off.
Kyle Busch was the second fastest with a lap of 28.684 which was a speed of 188.258 miles per hour. He was best through turns one and two and had to be creative with his line in turns three and four. Arching the car off of the corner turned out to be the fastest way around for the M&Ms Toyota Camry.
Jeff Gordon was third quickest with a lap of 28.694 seconds, clocking in at 188.193 miles per hour. Gordon noted in his post race interview that the luck of the draw can have some impact on qualifying, but the session went by rather quickly and any real advantage was probably minimized. This is a big weekend in motorsports. The trophy looks very nice and the history behind it makes it even more special.
Rounding out the top five were Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson.
A surprising starter for Sunday’s race is Bill Elliott who will be starting 10th. Elliott’s 59th career start at Charlotte was sealed with a lap of 28.851 seconds, for 187.169 miles per hour. The other starters in the top 10 are Kasey Kahne, Mike Bliss, Brian Vickers and Juan Pablo Montoya. The 600 starts Sunday evening at 5:45 pm.