Rocketman wins 30th career pole

Updated: April 15, 2005, 7:22 PM ET
Associated Press

Ryan Newman
Newman
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Ryan Newman almost lost control of his car just before taking the green flag for his qualifying run, and still won another pole.

Newman recovered for a lap of 192.582 mph Friday at Texas, earning his 30th pole in 123 career races -- the highest percentage of pole starts (24 percent) in NASCAR Nextel Cup. It is his third this season, the fourth time he will start on the front row.

"It wasn't as comfortable as practice. The track heated up quite a bit and made it a hand full,'' Newman said. "I actually about lost control coming to the green flag. ... We slowed up some, but we didn't slow up as much as everybody else.''

Newman earned the pole for Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 on his first qualifying lap in his Dodge. Teammates Jeremy Mayfield (192.431) and Kasey Kahne (191.734), the runner-up in Texas last spring, qualified 2-3 in Dodges. Ricky Rudd was fourth for his first top 10 start.

Greg Biffle, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon and 2004 race winner Elliott Sadler rounded out the top eight spots.

One of Newman's 11 career wins came at Texas two years ago. But he finished 39th and 40th his only other two races at the 1½-mile, high-banked track.

No resolution yet
For the first time since Shane Hmiel made an obscene gesture at Dale Jarrett during a Busch race, the drivers were at the same track Friday.

They won't be racing each other since Jarrett is only running Nextel Cup this weekend, but the garages at Texas Motor Speedway are only about 100 yards apart.

Still, Hmiel and Jarrett hadn't spoken.

"I will when I have the opportunity,'' said Hmiel, the polesitter for Saturday's O'Reilly 300. "I'm sure he's still probably pretty mad at me. I had reasons to be mad at him too.''

Hmiel was fined $10,000 and docked 25 points for flipping his middle finger at Jarrett at Bristol on April 4. The image was caught on his in-car camera and shown on live television.

Jarrett had been hit from behind by Hmiel after slowing to avoid an accident. After getting out of his car, Jarrett walked to Hmiel's, and was leaning inside the window to complain when Hmiel made the gesture.

"I don't really have any reason to seek him out,'' Jarrett said. "I don't feel like I've done anything wrong.''

Jarrett said the incident could have been avoided if Hmiel had been more patient at the half-mile Bristol track.

"The rest of it was hopefully something maybe that he's learned a valuable lesson,'' Jarrett said. "It's over and done. We have to race together some more this year, and that's what we'll do.''

Hmiel said he won't alter his hard-driving style, but the 24-year-old will make one change: "I won't flip the bird.''

And Hmiel is driven by those negative posts about him on the Internet message boards, many from fans of Jarrett and other veteran drivers.

"I read Hmiel is a punk, Hmiel is still on drugs, Hmiel's all this, Hmiel's all that. None of that's true,'' he said. "When people say that stuff, all they're doing is making me want to work harder.''

Edwards double-dipping
This is already the sixth time this season that Roush Racing driver Carl Edwards is running Nextel Cup and Busch races on the same weekend.

The rookie is making it look easy, leading the Busch standings and he's 11th in Nextel Cup.

Edwards won both races in Atlanta last month, celebrating the wins with backflips off his car. Could there be a double backflip in the future?

"I might be able to do, but I think it would be risky to try,'' he said. "I can do it off the diving board, but there's just really a big penalty if I mess that up on the pavement.''

Miscellaneous
Casey Mears wrecked his primary Dodge Charger early in practice Friday, and qualified 32nd in a backup car. "Something happened to the right front tire coming out of the third turn,'' said Mears, who has just one finish better than 17th this season. ... Fort Worth-based clothing manufacturer Dickies announced Friday a contest in which five people will get all-expense paid trips to the Nov. 6 race the company sponsors. One will win at least $50,000, with a chance for $500,000 depending on the race winner. Entries will be available May 1 at the company's 8,000 retailers in all 50 states or at www.dickies500.com. ... College student Josh Schmidt is about halfway through a 3,000-mile trip across the country, going 20 mph on a custom-designed lawnmower painted to resemble Richard Petty's No. 43 NASCAR vehicle. The ride started Feb. 26 in California, and will end May 28 at the Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina. The ride is to raise awareness and funds for the camp for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. "We pushed him down the hill and got him started,'' Petty said. "At 15-20 mph, it'd get pretty boring after 15-20 feet.''


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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