INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Newman stole the pole position from Jimmie Johnson for Sunday’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Cool temperatures, a brisk wind and the sun playing peek-a-boo with the clouds had the Sprint Cup teams scrambling to find the right set-up around the 2.5-mile oval.
Johnson, in the Lowe’s Chevrolet, broke the track record set in 2004 by Casey Mears at 186.293 mph by turning a lap at 48.016 seconds or 187.438 mph.
“You quickly find out if you got it right entering Turn 1,” Johnson said. “It gives you confidence for the rest of the lap. We had a strong run the rest of the lap.”
Johnson, the 11th of 45 drivers making a qualifying attempt, didn’t expect the lap to hold up for his second pole position at IMS.
Johnson’s prediction turned out to be accurate as Newman in the Quicken Loans Chevrolet, the last car to make a qualifying run, turned a lap at 47.992 seconds at 187.531 mph.
“You can’t count Ryan out,” Johnson said. “He had a great lap.”
South Bend-native Newman's pole run was popular with the fans.
“I was watching the speed tracker and knew I would need a good run in the first two corners,” he said. “I guess I did my homework and the crew did their homework. It was a great effort today.
“This is special,” Newman said of the pole position, his first since September, 2011. “This is the Brickyard, and I never won a pole here.”
Before Newman’s run, Carl Edwards in the Fastenal Ford came the closest to knocking Johnson off the pole position with a lap of 48.088 seconds at 187.157 mph.
“It was frustrating because we wanted to win the pole,” Edwards said. “It was a respectable lap.
“I thought we had a chance at the 48 car until we got to Turn 4,” he said. “We started slipping and sliding a little bit. The track is getting slippery. Anyone going to win the pole will have to work for it.”
Denny Hamlin in the FedEx Express Toyota qualified third-quick, followed by Tony Stewart in the Mobil 1 Chevrolet with Kurt Bush rounding out the top five in the Furniture Row Chevrolet.
Jeff Gordon in the Dupont Chevrolet will roll off ninth, and David Stremme in the Widow Wax Toyota will start 37th.