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Newman rockets to sixth straight Atlanta pole

10/28/2005

HAMPTON, Ga. -- When it comes to qualifying at Atlanta Motor
Speedway, Ryan Newman is in a class by himself.

The "Rocketman," already considered NASCAR's best qualifier
ever in only his fourth full season, showed the way again Friday
night, winning his sixth straight Atlanta pole with a lap of
193.928 mph and posting the 34th pole of his career and seventh of
the season.

"I told the team I was going for two laps if I didn't get
everything on the first one," Newman said after jumping out of his
No. 12 Dodge. "I ran it again and she felt pretty good. It was
pretty darn close to a perfect lap. If anybody can beat it, they
can have it."

Nobody came close.

Runner-up Carl Edwards, the winner here in March, was
considerably slower than Newman at 193.420 -- and very impressed
with the pole winner.

"I was just impressed that his first lap was four-tenths [of a
second] quicker than anybody else, and his second lap was even
quicker," Edwards said.

Now, if Newman can just translate his success in time trials
into a strong finish in Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, it could
help immeasurably in his effort to win his first Nextel Cup
championship.

Despite Newman's qualifying heroics on one of NASCAR's fastest
ovals, in seven previous races at the suburban Atlanta track he has
managed just one finish better than 10th -- a fifth-place run in
March 2004.

"We enjoy this track. It's very fast and I really enjoy
qualifying here," Newman said. "But it's a handful in the
race."

With four races remaining in the 10-race Chase for the
championship, Newman is third, trailing leader Tony Stewart by 63
points and runner-up Jimmie Johnson by 48. Greg Biffle is fourth,
20 points behind Newman and Edwards fifth, another 66 back.

Stewart qualified 10th, Johnson 12th and Biffle 16th.

Among the other drivers in the Chase, sixth-place Rusty Wallace
qualified 35th, seventh-place Mark Martin was fourth, eighth-place
Kurt Busch was 30th, ninth-place Matt Kenseth was 23rd and
10th-place Jeremy Mayfield was 18th.

Newman has six top-10 finishes, including his only win of the
season, in the seven Chase races, but he knows that consistency
might not be enough to vie for the title.

"Our team can't rely on top-10 finishes alone to win this
championship," he said. "We're very happy with our newfound
consistency and the team is truly relaxed and confident in our
abilities right now. But, a streak of top 10s is going to have to
turn into a streak of top fives and a few wins to secure the
championship."