LOUDON, N.H. — Ryan Newman knows how to make himself at home in New Hampshire.
Newman set a track record Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a lap of 27.904 seconds (136.497 miles per hour) to win the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300. It was the 51st pole of his career, and his seventh in 24 races at NHMS.
Then, just for fun, Newman went right back out and won the pole for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s F.W. Webb 100 with a fast lap of 129.221 m.p.h.
Newman’s Sprint Cup qualifying lap broke the 1.058-mile track record of 135.922, set by Brad Keselowski July 12. Kasey Kahne set the early pace Friday at 136.082 and finished second. In third was Jeff Gordon, whose 136.053 was also faster than the old record.
Kurt Busch was fourth and Martin Truex Jr., the Michael Waltrip Racing driver who was tossed from the Chase field (and replaced by Newman) after his team’s manipulation of the Richmond race two weeks ago, was fifth.
Ten Chase drivers qualified among the top 12, including Joey Logano (sixth), Kevin Harvick (eighth), Matt Kenseth (ninth), Greg Biffle (10th), Jimmie Johnson (11th), and Kyle Busch (12th).
The Sylvania 300 is the second race in NASCAR’s 10-race championship series. Newman is currently eighth in the Chase standings. Kenseth, who won the opener in Chicago last week, is the leader.
“I’ve said it here several times and probably on at least six other occasions that this is the birthplace of track position,’’ said Newman after winning his second pole of 2013 and 11th top-10 start. “I strongly feel it is, in qualifying well and having that No. 1 pit stall, starting the race up front, in clean air . . . all the things that go along with it.
“Probably the most important is to have the confidence that you have the fastest race car, or at least can make it the fastest race car. Our Quicken Loans Chevrolet was good today.
“We unloaded in qualifying trim and kept making it faster and faster and faster.’’
Newman said he was a little surprised with his time.
“I really felt like Kasey’s lap was going to be hard to beat,’’ he said. “I didn’t feel like I had a lot of speed in my lap, it felt like it was balanced. But the speed just kind of comes with the track cooling down compared to practice and a really good run for us. I’m happy to be on the pole and to get my 51st pole and to do it at a place where it’s really tough to pass.’’
Newman’s first lap was 27.93 seconds and his second was 27.904. Either would have won the pole.
Newman said he did not gear up to run his fastest lap on either trip.
“I was more focused on being as good as I could be on both laps,’’ he said, “and then I would tell you afterwards which lap those pressures came in and obviously it was three-100ths to the better on the second lap.’’
Kahne, the eighth driver to take the track Friday, posted his 17th top-10 qualifying effort of 2013 and his ninth in 20 races at NHMS.
“We had a really good lap; I feel like I missed it a little bit off Turn 2, didn’t quite get enough there,” said Kahne. “We got through Turns 3 and 4 really well. Then, just got beat right here at the end.
“So it was a good lap for our guys.’’
Kahne said he was looking forward to practice on Saturday to keep trying to “just find a better package on what we had that first race here.’’ Kahne finished 11th here in July.
Gordon earned his 24th top-10 start at NHMS and his 15th in 28 races this season. The four-time NASCAR champion is a three-time winner at NHMS, where he has led 1,316 laps, the most of any driver.
“It just feels like we are picking things up,’’ said Gordon, who is winless this season but finished sixth in Chicago to climb from 13th to seventh in the Chase points race. “It’s been an up-and-down season for us, no question about that. But if you ever want to peak, you want to do it when the Chase comes around.
“We were just sneaking our way into it and now, having the type of performance we had last week and today has been a great day, from practice to backing that up with qualifying. This is a great way for us to not only get the weekend started, but to get the Chase started. We are pretty excited right now.’’
New Hampshire obviously gets Newman revved up, too.
“I’m happy that we’re in this position,’’ Newman said, “in a place where it probably means the most.’’