MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) -- By the time Ryan Newman made his qualifying laps at Martinsville Speedway, the crowd had all but given the top starting spot to Jeff Gordon.
Newman had other ideas, and when he came up just shy of Gordon's speed of 92.733 mph with his first lap Friday, even Gordon -- NASCAR's top short-track qualifier -- knew what one of two super rookies in Winston Cup racing was likely to do next.
The four-time series champion was right. Newman turned his second lap in a Ford at 92.837 and won the pole for Sunday's Old Dominion 500.
"Going out early and setting the mark, you get your hopes up," said Gordon, the 10th of 48 drivers to make their qualifying runs. "But I knew we were in trouble when I saw his first lap."
The pole was Newman's fourth of the season, tying him with fellow rookie Jimmie Johnson and Bill Elliott for the series lead.
"Knocking him off the pole here was pretty big," Newman said.
The qualifying runs were the first competitive laps run on the 0.526-mile oval since the track milled the lower groove in the turns to remove some bumps.
The new surface, far more coarse than the older, smooth one, proved tricky for some drivers and left others confused. Newman, not surprisingly, had no complaints.
"The curb's in the same spot. The wall's in the same spot," he said. "It's the same old concrete. It's just ground up in some spots, but it still takes the best car and the best driver to get the best lap in."
For 34 drivers in a row, that best lap belonged to Gordon and his Chevrolet. Gordon was seeking his fourth pole in six short-track races.
"This place has been so good to me," he said. "We've always had a great setup for this place.
"I really didn't want to see them make any changes. I didn't see what was wrong with it before."
Elliott qualified third in his Dodge at 92.524, while Johnson, the last driver to make his laps, was seventh with a speed of 92.186.
The top 10 also includes Virginia native Ward Burton, fourth in a Dodge, followed by Rusty Wallace in a Ford and the Chevrolets of Joe Nemechek, Johnson, Hermie Sadler, Mike Skinner and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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