Ryan Newman earned his 10th pole of the season Friday, adding to his reputation as one of the best qualifiers in Winston Cup history.
This time, Newman put his Penske Racing South Dodge at the front of the field for Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. He beat a three-car Chevrolet effort by Hendrick Motorsports.
Newman's lap around the mile oval was 133.675 mph, just quick enough to keep 20-year-old Brian Vickers, making only his third Winston Cup start, from becoming the youngest driver to win a pole in NASCAR's top series.
Vickers' lap of 133.640 mph was just 0.007 seconds slower than that of Newman.
Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, Vickers' Hendrick teammates, weren't far behind the top two. Johnson ran at 133.581. Gordon, a winner of the races at Atlanta and Martinsville, Va., the past two weeks, went 133.417.
Bill Elliott was the last driver to win more than nine poles in the series, starting from the front 11 times in 1985. Cale Yarborough won 14 poles in 1980, the most in modern history.
In his 78 races Newman already has 17 poles, including three in his past four tries.
"I've watched qualifying the last two years and seen how frustrated some of these drivers get with Ryan Newman," Vickers said. "I'm starting to feel it. We were so close."
Newman gives much of the credit for his performance to crew chief Matt Borland and the rest of the team on his No. 12 Intrepid.
"The team gives me great cars and great opportunities to be up on the front row and I just have to go out and get it done for them," Newman said. "It doesn't get old and it always will be a great confidence builder for the whole team."
SILVERADO 150: Kevin Harvick held off Ted Musgrave to win the NASCAR Truck event at Phoenix International Raceway as the close season points race got even tighter.
Musgrave's runner-up finish combined with a 12th place by Craftsman Truck series leader Brendan Gaughan and a third-place run by Travis Kvapil, moved Musgrave to second in the standings.
Gaughan's lead was cut from 45 points over Kvapil to 26 over Musgrave with the Nov. 14 finale at Homestead remaining. Kvapil fell to third and trails by 34 points. He's five ahead of Dennis Setzer, who finished third.
An engine problem slowed Gaughan near the end, costing him several points. Still, he can clinch the title by finishing fourth or better in Homestead.