LOUDON, N.H. — Ryan Newman wasn’t sure how he’d fare in qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F. W. Webb 100 on Friday evening. He didn’t run a mock qualifying run in practice. Why? He skipped the early morning practice session because he didn’t arrive at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway until about five in the morning.
“I was out in Wyoming elk hunting,” said the 2008 Daytona 500 champion. “We literally landed about a quarter to five this morning and I didn’t get to bed until 8:30. I was up at eight and ready to go at 8:30 but I got the text saying I could skip it. I didn’t argue with that after getting two-and-a-half hours of sleep.”
But the lack of sleep and no qualifying run didn’t keep Newman from going fast as he won the pole for Saturday’s race with a lap of 29.067 seconds around the one-mile oval. It is the fifth time Newman will lead the ground-pounders to the green flag at NHMS.
“I had a good lap there,” said Newman. “It’s so cool out there that it takes a full lap and a half for your tires to come to you. It was a good run for us.”
He has had a lot of magic in NWMT competition at the “Magic Mile.” He swept the season at NHMS in 2010 and won the inaugural Whelen All-Star Shootout here back in July.
Newman will share the front row with July’s race winner, Bobby Santos.
“I’m pretty happy with our qualifying run,” said Santos. “I didn’t expect to be top-three after going out that early but the track didn’t really seem to change that much.”
Santos will attempt to be the first driver since Newman to sweep the NWMT events at NHMS.
“I was just happy to win here in the spring,” said Santos. “This place is tough. Anywhere else if you’re leading on the last lap you’d be happy and think you have it sealed up. This place you could be running fourth on the last lap and win it. We’re just going to put ourselves in a position to win it and it’d be cool if we could complete the sweep.”
Ron Silk held the provisional pole for a while until Santos bumped him from the top of the board. Silk won the pole here in July and said he would have liked to have started from the pole for both races but didn’t mind being bumped by Santos.
“That’s good,” he said. “I’ll take the win. He can have the pole.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (CT, Long Island, NJ) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com