Mayfield denies Newman another pole

Anyone in search of Jeremy Mayfield should look straight up into the sky. ``Right now, I'm on Cloud 9,'' Mayfield said Friday after winning the pole at Dover International Speedway. But don't ask him to run the lap again. ``I don't think there's a lot left in there,'' he said.

Mayfield beat qualifying ace Ryan Newman, knocking him off the pole with a record-setting qualifying run. It was appropriate.

Mayfield hounded Newman last September but lost a close race on The Monster Mile. That gave Newman a sweep of the races last year on the high-banked concrete oval.

But it was no contest in qualifying for the MBNA 400. Mayfield's Dodge went 161.522 mph. Newman got around in 160.643 in his Dodge to take the outside of the front row.

``This is probably the sweetest pole I've ever gotten,'' Mayfield said. ``It was a great.

``I just wanted to back up my time in practice.''

Despite his success last year, Mayfield was not sure what to expect. ``We went into it with an open mind and said we've got to get what we can get, and the car stuck,'' he explained.

Even though he was ecstatic over the pole, Mayfield said it means very little for the future. ``We've still got a lot to prove,'' he said.

It was the eighth pole of Mayfield's career and first this season. On Sunday, he'll seek to end a 129-race drought with his fourth victory. Mayfield hasn't won since 2000.

Only Mayfield was faster than Newman in practice, hinting at an encore to their magnificent battle at the end of the race here last fall.

``I wasn't surprised by Jeremy,'' Newman said. ``He was a 10th quicker than us in practice.''  Newman's lap shattered the qualifying record of teammate Rusty Wallace, who went 159.954 in 1999.  ``I said it wasn't a perfect lap when we ran it,'' Newman said. ``Jeremy had pretty close to a perfect lap.''

Wallace qualified fourth Friday with a run at 160.214. Inside Wallace on the second row will be rookie Brian Vickers, who went 160.521. He won here last September in the Busch series.

`I'm satisfied,'' Vickers said. ``I'd be happy if we were on the pole. We were real close.'' Completing the top 10 were Brendan Gaughan, Elliott Sadler, Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip, Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart.

Waltrip crashed on his second lap and was forced to change cars, sending him to the rear of the field. ``I don't know what happened,'' Waltrip said. ``I just lost it.''

Greg Biffle also spun out and failed to complete a lap. He took the last provisional position and also will start at the end.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who leads Jimmie Johnson by five points after 12 of 36 races, qualified 26th. Johnson wound up 14th in the field of 43.


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