Ryan Newman had just enough speed Friday and won the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Winston Cup Series Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., Raceway.
Newman’s fast lap of 169.048 mph in a Penske Racing Dodge barely beat the 168.862 of Jimmie Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
“That was just a good enough lap to beat Jimmie,” Newman said. “He had a good car too.”
Said Johnson: “I was so close to Ryan. I left a little on the table in [Turn] 4, getting back into the gas. Probably all I needed was just a little bit. But I’m just very happy because track position is very important here.”
The narrow, treacherous track didn’t treat them quite as well at the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 in March when Newman started second but finished 14th, and Johnson started 14th and finished 27th.
“Its a great racetrack. It’s a driver’s racetrack,” Newman said.
“You have to respect this place because it can just eat you up in a minute, but I love racing here,” said Johnson.
The series-leading sixth pole of the season for Newman matched his total last year, when he was the top Winston Cup Series rookie, and gave him a career total of 13 in 69 races.
Terry Labonte was third in another Hendrick Chevrolet at 168.538 mph, followed by Elliott Sadler’s Ford at 168.451, the Chevrolet of Bobby Labonte at 158.227 and series points leader Matt Kenseth at 158.158 in a Ford.
Kevin Harvick did his part for tradition, becoming the latest Winston Cup star to win the pole for today’s Busch Series South Carolina 200 at Darlington Raceway.
Harvick’s speed of 167.516 mph in a Chevrolet put him in front, just ahead of the Ford of fellow Winston Cup racer Jamie McMurray.
Harvick had only one top-10 starting spot in four previous Busch races at Darlington.
Winston Cup racers such as Mark Martin and Jeff Burton have dominated Darlington’s Busch series events over the past decade. Martin has the track record with eight Busch victories and eight poles.
Burton had a run of three victories -- including a pole win in 2002 -- that ended in March with Todd Bodine’s win.
It was Harvick’s third Busch pole this season. The others came at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and California Speedway. He also has three Busch victories this year.
McMurray finished second to Bodine in Darlington’s spring race after blowing a tire and hitting the wall only strides from the finish line. Bodine slid across the line to win.
Bruno Junqueira capitalized on a crash that affected two potentially faster cars to claim the provisional pole for Sunday’s Championship Auto racing Teams Grand Prix of Denver.
Junqueira earned a point in the CART season standings and also guaranteed himself a spot in the front row for the race.
He would earn another point and his second pole of the season if he stays on top in final qualifying today.
Junqueira, who won the inaugural Denver race last year after starting on the pole, turned a fast lap of 1 minute 1.438 seconds (96.507 mph) -- a track record -- in a Ford-Cosworth/Lola on the 1.65-mile, nine-turn temporary street circuit.
Adrian Fernandez’s lap of 1:01.583 (96.280) in a Ford-Cosworth/Lola gave him second on the tentative grid, and rookie Darren Manning was third with a lap of 1:01.869 (95.835) in a Ford-Cosworth/Reynard.
Persistent rain at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind., forced postponement of the opening round of qualifying for the NHRA’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
They have been scheduled for today. Final eliminations are set for Monday.
The United States lost to South Korea in the men’s volleyball semifinals at Daegu, South Korea, ending the Americans’ dominating run in team sports at the World University Games that started in 1965.
The U.S. was beaten, 25-17, 25-23, 25-16, after a comeback victory over Russia the previous night.
The United States first entered this competition 38 years ago. Since then it had reached at least one final at each University Games -- if contested -- in basketball, volleyball or water polo.
The volleyball team was the last hope. Instead, the Americans will play France for the bronze medal.
Japan defeated France, 25-21, 25-18, 20-25, 27-25, to advance to Sunday’s final.
The U.S. had led the gold-medal standings at five consecutive University Games until placing second to China at Beijing in 2001.
But the Americans are in danger of recording their worst performance since 1975, when they won two gold medals in track and field, the only sport contested in Rome.
World champion Mary Zorn led her compound archery team to the gold medal, and swimmer Shannon Catalano won the women’s 50-meter butterfly to give the U.S. five gold medals overall.
Saint Louis University guard Reggie Bryant will sit out the first three basketball games of the season as punishment for making unauthorized long distance calls while at Villanova.
Bryant and other Villanova students and athletes were involved in the unauthorized use of a long-distance telephone access code during the 2001-02 academic year, Saint Louis officials said. Bryant will repay the cost of the calls he placed.
Bryant, a 6-foot-2 junior, averaged 7.6 points in 55 games at Villanova before transferring to Saint Louis and sitting out last season.
The Mighty Ducks have signed center Keith Aucoin, 24, a free agent who played at Providence of the American Hockey League, to a one-year contract. He had 25 goals and 74 points in 78 games last season.
Mike Penner is on vacation.