Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Aspen Dental Chevrolet, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Friday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway by qualifying second for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Newman turned a lap of 46.789 seconds at 192.353 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.
“That was a good lap, and I thought we were decent yesterday when we were fourth in practice,” said Newman, who won the 2008 Daytona 500. “I just have to thank Aspen Dental for jumping on board. This is one of our two races with them, so hopefully we’ll have a good outing with them here in Daytona. We need it from a team standpoint and from a points perspective. I think our car is good, but we need to make it to the end. That’s the bottom line.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, originally posted the second-fastest time but his lap was disallowed by NASCAR after the car failed post-qualifying inspection. The team had an open cooling hose in the cockpit, which is in violation of Rule 20A-2.1J in the NASCAR rulebook. Stewart will now start 42nd. The cap that went on the cooling hose fell off during the run, and while there was no malicious intent by the team, NASCAR still had to assess the penalty.
“It’s just one of those things,” said Stewart, who is a three-time winner of the Coke Zero 400 (2005, 2006 and 2009). “It wasn’t intentional and we weren’t trying to gain an advantage. The cap just fell off during the run and that’s a violation, so we’re serving the penalty. It’s not ideal to start in the back, but there are a lot worse places to have to start from the rear, too.”
Matt Kenseth captured his eighth career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at Daytona by posting a lap of 46.781 seconds at 192.386 mph.
Newman will start on the outside of row one, while Kasey Kahne (46.804 seconds at 192.291 mph), Greg Biffle (46.841 seconds at 192.139 mph) and Jeff Gordon (46.860 seconds at 192.061 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-four drivers attempted to qualify for the Coke Zero 400. The lone driver not making the cut in the 43-car field was Robert Richardson.
As far as manufacturers went, Ford took the top spot via Kenseth’s pole run. Chevrolet was next best at the hands of Newman. Dodge was the third-fastest make thanks to eighth-quick A.J. Allmendinger (46.901 seconds at 191.894 mph), while 18th-fastest Martin Truex Jr. (47.060 seconds at 191.245 mph) carried the flag for Toyota.
The Coke Zero 400 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with a pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.