Phoenix: Petty Enterprises qualifying report

Ryan Newman returned to his old qualifying ways and will lead the field to the green in Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at the Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR). The pole was the 43rd of Newman's career, tying him with Buck Baker ...

Phoenix: Petty Enterprises qualifying report

Ryan Newman returned to his old qualifying ways and will lead the field to the green in Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at the Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR). The pole was the 43rd of Newman's career, tying him with Buck Baker for 10th most in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. Fellow Dodge Motorsports driver, Elliot Sadler, will start along side. Carl Edwards, last week's winner, rounds out the top-three.

PIR provides a unique challenge to drivers and crews. It is an egg-shaped oval, meaning turns one and two have a different radius than turns three and four. It is commonly referred to as a "compromise" track because you are usually better at one end than you are the other.

Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team will start Saturday's race from the 34th position. He toured the track in 27.394 seconds. Like many of the drivers in the garage area, Labonte had to deal with a car that was "tight" in the center of the corner. However, Labonte has three top-10 finishes in his last five starts at PIR. This gives him a lot of confidence heading into the race.

"There just wasn't much grip out there today," said Labonte. "It wasn't hot out there, but the sun really beat down on the track. Phoenix has always been one of the most sensitive tracks when it comes sunlight. But we have a lot practice tomorrow. I feel confident that Jeff (Meendering, crew chief) and I can get it dialed in."

Kyle Petty posted a qualifying lap of 27.697 seconds in the No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge. This was not enough to qualify him into the field of 43.

Saturday night's race will be televised live on FOX and broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Channel 128. Pre-race coverage is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. (EST).

-credit: pe

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