Sunday, August 3, 2003

Harvick relishes pole, time at Indy

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - 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 today's Brickyard 400 (2:30 p.m. EDT, NBC), 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 were he, not Newman, who grew up dreaming about victories on the 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 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 here, qualified 15th. Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth qualified 17th and three-time race winner Jeff Gordon was 19th.

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 certainly can 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 punched a photographer after the race.

And Newman, so disappointed after a poor practice run Friday, tossed and turned all night.

"I want to do the best job I can, and I can't do that if I get myself all rattled up," Newman said.

Brickyard 400 lineup

Car numbers in parentheses
1. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 184.343 mph.
2. (12) Ryan Newman, Dodge, 184.238.
3. (9) Bill Elliott, Dodge, 183.925.
4. (22) Ward Burton, Dodge, 183.741.
5. (15) Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 183.722.
6. (97) Kurt Busch, Ford, 183.711.
7. (25) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 183.445.
8. (18) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 183.408.
9. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 183.333.
10. (19) Jeremy Mayfield, Dodge, 183.262.
11. (81) John Andretti, Chevrolet, 183.098.
12. (40) Sterling Marlin, Dodge, 182.890.
13. (31) Robby Gordon, Chevrolet, 182.801.
14. (2) Rusty Wallace, Dodge, 182.741.
15. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 182.541.
16. (38) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 182.430.
17. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 182.341.
18. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 182.286.
19. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 182.223.
20. (77) Dave Blaney, Ford, 182.149.
21. (57) Kevin Lepage, Ford, 182.131.
22. (42) Jamie McMurray, Dodge, 182.098.
23. (30) Steve Park, Chevrolet, 181.976.
24. (01) Mike Skinner, Pontiac, 181.829.
25. (6) Mark Martin, Ford, 181.770.
26. (0) Jason Leffler, Pontiac, 181.759.
27. (191) Casey Atwood, Dodge, 181.675.
28. (41) Casey Mears, Dodge, 181.123.
29. (23) Kenny Wallace, Dodge, 181.046.
30. (1) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, 181.025.
31. (154) Todd Bodine, Ford, 180.915.
32. (7) Jimmy Spencer, Dodge, 180.832.
33. (74) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 180.741.
34. (88) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 180.585.
35. (32) Ricky Craven, Pontiac, 180.545.
36. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 180.484.
37. (99) Jeff Burton, Ford, 179.648, provisional.
38. (5) Terry Labonte, Chevy, 180.343, provisional.
39. (21) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 179.770, provisional.
40. (10) Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 180.480, provisional.
41. (45) Kyle Petty, Dodge, 179.960, preovisional.
42. (14) Larry Foyt, Dodge, 178.845, provisional.
43. (37) Derrike Cope, Chevy, 178.186, provisional.

Notables who failed to qualify: Brett Bodine, Ford, 180.484; Ken Schrader, Dodge, 180.368; Christian Fittipaldi, Dodge, 179.133; 52. (4) Robert Pressley, Pontiac, 179.269.

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