'An awesome lap'
Harvick sets track record in winning Brickyard polePosted: Saturday August 02, 2003 3:11 PM
Updated: Saturday August 02, 2003 8:16 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Harvick is a California boy with no special ties to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Ryan Newman is a Hoosier with big dreams of winning on his home track.
Both wanted the pole for the Brickyard 400 and both shattered the track record trying to get it in Saturday's qualifying.
Harvick was the winner and relished the moment as if it was he, not Newman, who grew up fantasizing about victories on the historic 2 1/2-mile oval.
"Anything you do here means a lot to me," Harvick said. "Obviously there's a lot of history with open-wheel and stock cars and it's an important place for my team."
Harvick turned a lap at 184.343 mph in his Chevrolet minutes after Newman broke the track record with a lap at 184.238 in his Dodge.
As Harvick pulled off the track, Newman was still on pit road and greeted him with wide-open arms as if to say `Wow!'
"I didn't expect to be quite that fast," Newman said. "I also didn't think my time would stand up. I knew a lot of fast cars were coming."
Speeds were overwhelmingly fast on Saturday, with 11 drivers topping the record of 182.960 set by Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart last season.
But Harvick was the best, earning just the second pole of his career. The other? At another famous race track -- Daytona International Speedway last summer.
"It's pretty neat that my two poles are at Daytona and Indy," Harvick said. "That was an awesome lap. I saw Bill [Elliott] and Ryan put up some pretty good laps, so we knew we had to go for it."
By qualifying first, Harvick gave car owner Richard Childress poles in three of the biggest races of the year: Jeff Green, who no longer drives for Childress, won the pole of the season-opening Daytona 500, Steve Park won the pole at Daytona last month and now Harvick has it at the Brickyard.
Elliott, the defending race winner, qualified third in a Dodge
"I felt like I was out of control, the track is so fast," Elliott said. "But I love this race track. I love racing here. It's always been good to me."
Ward Burton qualified fourth in a Dodge -- his best qualifying effort of the season -- and Michael Waltrip was fifth in a Chevrolet. Kurt Busch qualified sixth in a Ford and was followed by Joe Nemechek, Bobby Labonte, Jimmie Johnson and Jeremy Mayfield.
Stewart, still looking for his first victory on his home track, qualified 15th. Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth qualified 17th and three-time race winner Jeff Gordon was 19th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who trails Kenseth by 232 points in the standings, will start 36th.
Starting from the back of the pack won't be easy, with track position so critical and passing extremely difficult at Indy.
"Strategy could really end up being important," Gordon said. "This track has never been the best for putting on a great [NASCAR] race. It's a flat, fast track and that doesn't make for good racing for us.
"Don't get me wrong, it's dramatic. But this place is more about hype than it is great racing."
The hype of Indy can certainly be overwhelming, especially to Indiana natives.
Stewart was so emotionally drained last year after winning the pole and dominating the race, only to fade at the end, that he snapped afterward and punched a photographer.
And Newman, so disappointed after a poor practice run on Friday, tossed and turned all night. It showed on the faces of Newman and crew chief Matt Borland.
"We both didn't sleep a lot last night," said Newman, who has a series-high four victories this season. "I try to be calm out there. If you get rattled, it doesn't do you any good.
"I want to do the best job I can, and I can't do that if I get myself all rattled up."
Among those who failed to make the field were Ken Schrader, who will snap his streak of 579 consecutive Winston Cup starts. It was the third longest active streak in the sport behind Ricky Rudd (700) and Rusty Wallace (609)
Also failing to qualify were Brett Bodine and Christian Fittipaldi in a car owned by Petty Enterprises.
John Andretti, fired by the Pettys in June, qualified 11th in a car owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.