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Rocketman wins 30th career pole

4/15/2005

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.''