AVONDALE, Ariz., Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Ryan Newman's sensational rookie season continued Friday as he won the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Checker Auto Parts 500.
Newman scored his record-setting sixth pole of the season as he drove his Ford Taurus to a lap of 132.655 miles per hour at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway.
The pole broke the previous rookie record of five set by the late Davey Allison in 1987.
"It's a cool deal for the team as well as me," Newman said. "Just like anything on race day, it's a team sport. This is as much their reward as it is mine.
"I'm just happy to break that record. Like I said last week, any time there is an award out there, we go for it and I'm happy to accomplish that this year."
John Andretti qualified second in a Dodge Intrepid at 132.587 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third in a Chevrolet Monte carlo at 132.333 mph, followed by fellow Chevy driver Jeff Gordon at 132.285 mph and Dave Blaney in a Ford at 132.115 mph.
"I took a provisional last year (actually started 22nd) and I'm 16th this year, so I don't think it's that dramatic," Stewart said. "If you've got a good car you can pass. It's not that difficult to pass here."
Stewart can clinch the championship if he gains 73 points on Martin. If Stewart leaves with a 185-point lead on his nearest competitor, he wins the championship regardless of what happens next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
If Stewart gains at least 39 points on Martin, he only needs to start at Miami to clinch the title.
Newman is fourth in the standings, 225 points behind Stewart, and believes he is still in the running for the lucrative title.
"I'm a math kind of guy," Newman said. "As long as there's mathematically a chance, we're still in it. The qualifying run was the part I was worried about with John Andretti following us is that we didn't back I up the way we did in practice. John had a good qualifying lap as well, but my car unloaded off the truck pretty fast.
"We worked on it a little bit and I got real comfortable. I've got a ton of laps at this race track in primarily different race cars, but the walls are in the same spot and the pavement is still the same."