Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by qualifying 11th for the 19th annual Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. Newman turned a lap of 49.831 seconds at 180.810 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.
“We were 10th after the first practice, so I was hoping we could shake out a little bit better than that,” said Newman, who grew up in South Bend, Ind., located about three hours north of Indianapolis, and whose best career Brickyard 400 finish was fourth in 2002. “It was a good effort for our Quicken Loans Chevrolet. This place is so sensitive. You’re doing twice the work on one lap as any other racetrack. There are four distinct corners and there is an entry, a middle and an exit for each one of them, so you’ve really got to get things right. If you miss one just a little bit – especially if you miss the even-numbered corners, two and four – they dictate what happens on the straightaways, and there’s so much time to be made or lost on a straightaway. This is a big weekend for us and this Quicken Loans team. Obviously, from a points standpoint, it’s very critical, but we need to have a good finish. That’ll be a good starting spot. We need to have a better finishing spot.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, will start 28th after turning a lap of 50.318 seconds at 178.862 mph.
“A terrible lap,” said Stewart, who won the Brickyard 400 in 2005 and 2007 and hails from nearby Columbus, Ind. “Instead of being on the gas late exit, I’m off the gas and that doesn’t work here.”
Denny Hamlin captured his 11th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Indianapolis by posting a lap of 49.244 seconds at 182.763 mph.
Carl Edwards will start on the outside of row one as he timed in at 49.455 seconds at 181.984 mph. Joey Logano (49.517 seconds at 181.756 mph), Aric Almirola (49.538 seconds at 181.679 mph) and Greg Biffle (49.578 seconds at 181.532 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-six drivers attempted to qualify for the Brickyard 400. Those not making the cut in the 43-car field were Reed Sorenson, Joe Nemechek and Michael McDowell.
As far as manufacturers went, Toyota took the top spot via Hamlin’s pole run. Ford was next best at the hands of Edwards, while Chevrolet was the third-fastest make thanks to sixth-quick Jimmie Johnson (49.626 seconds at 181.357 mph). Brad Keselowski (49.959 seconds at 180.148 mph), who qualified 22nd, carried the flag for Dodge.
The Brickyard 400 gets underway at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.