Stewart-Haas claimed the front-row of Sunday afternoon's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with Ryan Newman beating his boss and team mate Tony Stewart by 0.035s. It's Newman's 47th pole in 351 starts, his fourth for Stewart-Haas.
It had looked as though David Reutimann has pole position with a time of 28.262s with only 14 cars left to make qualifying laps, and Newman and Stewart - running just before the final man out, Clint Bowyer, in the running order set by the earlier practice session - didn't think they had anything to challenge him with.
It took a new track record of 135.232 mph (28.165s) for Newman to displace the #00 and claim his first pole position of the 2011 Cup season.
"Reutimann clipped off a lap that I didn't think could be beat," agreed Newman. "The car felt good in practice. The lap itself was nice and smooth. I wouldn't say it was perfect, but it was good enough, and if we can make that a little bit better for Sunday, we'll be in really good shape."
Steward felt that a new Goodyear tyre compound had proved critical to the team's sudden jump in form. "It's just a grippier tire," Stewart said. "What we've fought here in the past is a tyre that normally would chatter for two or three laps until it got some temperature in it and some bite. This tyre just seemed to take off better."
Reutimann had to settle for third place, but after his strong showing finishing second to Kyle Busch at the end of last week's inaugural Kentucky race he was pleased enough. "We're certainly, finally running like we're supposed to, but I don't know if you'd call it a 'roll,'" he said.
Reutimann will start alongside Kurt Bush whose team mate Brad Keselowski starts from fifth, confirming Penske's astonishing run of form since their revival. Jeff Burton takes sixth spot.
Carl Edwards will start from 15th, Kevin Harvick from 18th and Kyle Busch form 19th, while reigning champion Jimmie Johnson could only manage 28th on the starting grid. Tony Raines, Scott Riggs and Dennis Setzer all failed to qualify for the 43-car starting grid.
Full times and grid positions