After Nascar began the day lifting the fog and mist to emerge from the shadowy morning to a full day of practice, it ended with a rain delay and a start/stop/start again finish.
Though in the morning the chase drivers all spoke of being relaxed and not worried, by the middle to end of the practice all but Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhart, Jr. who were in the top 5 and top 10 most of the practice. The rest were mired in the 20’s and 30’s all day and relaxed and confident personas all but disappeared.
Qualifying began normal enough and as typical of his way, Rocket Man Ryan Newman was set to qualify last and was by far the last to stride onto the grid. By mid pack, Brian Vickers rocked a provisional poll lap and the 83 stood atop the leader board as everyone shot at his time and fell just a bit short.
Finally there was only 5 cars left to run, the 42; 48; 24; 4; and the 39. But then it started to sprinkle. Almost a light mist. The weather radar showed rain on Loudon, but we were only feeling small sprinkles. Nascar asked the next car up, Juan Pablo Montoya, if he wanted to give it a go? JPM looked at his windshield and said. . . . Eh. . . . No thank you. Jet dryers were on the track for several laps and the Coors Light team took down the Pole backdrop in preparation of the rain. finally after about 30 minutes, the 42 car took the track and set a blistering 31st position.
the 48 car then took the track and promptly shut down due to rain on his windshield coming back down pit road. With the 48 car’s engine off, the crowd’s booing was clearly heard and then after about 5 minutes he refired and laid down a 10th place lap. The 24 car beat that with a 7th place finish and it looked like the 83 car would take the pole. Then the 4 car went out and as he crossed the start/finish line the crowd cheered as he took the provisional pole with Ryan Newman left to run.
As Ryan took the green flag, it looked like a rookie Ryan Newman. He shot around the track in 28.213 seconds, taking the pole and ruining Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne’s day all in one.
As we sit here now, the rains have returned and the day finishes as we started. Except for Ryan Newman. He is celebrating his second pole at Loudon with Lobster.