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NEWMAN TOPS AT NASCAR'S TINY TRACK

Ryan Newman, above, earned the pole for Sunday's Tums 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Friday, running a lap at 96.795 mph to edge Jeff Gordon (96.519).

Jimmie Johnson, the points leader and winner in five of the past six NASCAR Sprint Cup races on the smallest, tightest oval in the series, qualified 15th.

Mark Martin, a teammate of Gordon and Johnson, will start fourth to give Hendrick Motorsports two cars in the front two rows.

The pole is Newman's second this season and 45th of his career.

"It's the place to be, no doubt, and it's the place to finish," Newman said.

Johnson, the three-time defending series champion, outqualified all but four of the 12 participants in the Chase for the Championship. Like Johnson, most chose to focus on their racing setup with prospects for additional practice sketchy. Heavy rain fell early at the speedway, and more is forecast today at the 0.526-mile, paperclip-shaped track.

Zephyrhills' David Reutimann will start fifth after his seventh top-five qualifying run this season.

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Todt wins election for FIA presidency

Jean Todt was elected president of auto racing's governing body FIA, defeating Finnish candidate Ari Vatanen. Todt, 63, was the heavy favorite after receiving the backing of outgoing president Max Mosley and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. The Frenchman, formerly Ferrari's team principal, was elected to a four-year term for the Federation International d'Automobile, topping Vatanen 135-49 in voting at FIA's general meeting in Paris. Vatanen, 57, is a former world rally champion.

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Skinner quick to mark milestone

Mike Skinner will start his 200th NASCAR truck series race at the front. He qualified for today's Kroger 200 at Martinsville at 95.733 mph, beating out points leader Ron Hornaday (95.617) for the pole. Skinner, 52, who was the inaugural truck series champion in 1995, will be the first driver with 200 truck starts and at least 200 Sprint Cup starts. He has 260 Cup starts including four this season. Tampa's Aric Almirola will start 15th.

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Elsewhere

Ford Racing says its first motor built specifically for NASCAR will debut next weekend in the Sprint Cup race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Ford said Matt Kenseth and David Ragan will use the "FR9." The motor is the first new model made by the company since the 351 Windsor in 1991, and the first engine the company has produced specifically for use in NASCAR. ... Five-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb won't compete in the last Formula One race of the season after the FIA refused to grant him a superlicense. Loeb had signed a deal with the Toro Rosso team to drive Nov.1 at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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Number of the day

17 Victories for Jimmie Johnson in 55 races during the Chase for the Championship since the format was introduced in 2004 - and also the number of other drivers to win Chase races, led by Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards with six victories apiece.

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Yates lending Sadler a car for one race

Elliott Sadler, who races for Richard Petty Motorsports in Sprint Cup, will drive a Yates Racing Ford in next weekend's race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Sadler, who drove for Robert Yates Racing before moving to RPM, said it will be for only one race. RPM and Yates are in the final stages of a merger that will move RPM from Dodge to Ford in 2010. RPM owner Richard Petty said last week that he hoped to use a Yates car for at least one race this season.

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