Indianapolis, IN – Indiana-native Ryan Newman earned his 50th career pole win in the Sprint Cup Series after topping Jimmie Johnson in Saturday's qualifying for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Newman, who grew up in nearby South Bend, set a new track qualifying record at Indianapolis with a lap at 187.531 mph. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was the last driver to make a qualifying lap in the 45-car field. His 50th pole moved him into sole possession of ninth on the series' all-time pole winners list. His last pole victory came in September 2011 at New Hampshire (63 races ago).
"I'll admit I was emotional," Newman said of his pole win at his home track. "For me, it is special because it's the Brickyard, and I hadn't won a pole here before, even though I have won so many poles. It's been so long since I won a pole. People ask me if I ran out of fuel for the rockets. So this is special to me for a lot of reasons."
Johnson, the 11th driver in the qualifying order, held the provisional pole with a lap at 187.438 mph until Newman beat him by just 0.024 seconds. The five-time Sprint Cup champion won the Brickyard 400 for the fourth time last year. Johnson also won the Daytona 500 earlier this year.
"You can't count Ryan out," Johnson said. "He put up a great lap. I missed a little bit down in (turns) 1 and 2, but I rallied back in 3 and 4. It was going that way with Ryan, but I just didn't have enough front straightaway to get it all back. I'm happy for him."
Newman, in his fourth and final year with Tony Stewart's team, has not won a race in NASCAR's top series since April 2012 at Martinsville. His best finish at Indianapolis is fourth, which came in his 2002 rookie of the year season.
Carl Edwards qualified third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Stewart, whose hometown is near this historic 2.5-mile racetrack in Columbus, Ind.
Kurt Busch took the sixth spot, while Kasey Kahne placed seventh. Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon and Marcos Ambrose completed the top-10. Gordon also is a four-time winner of this prestigious race.
The top-nine drivers in qualifying surpassed the previous record of 186.293 mph, set by Casey Mears in 2004.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 15th, and Danica Patrick, competing in her first Brickyard 400, will roll off 33rd.
Mike Bliss and Scott Speed failed to qualify for Sunday's 400-mile race at Indianapolis, which is scheduled to start shortly after 1 p.m. ET.