Rocket To The Pole? – When it comes to qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman has the routine down. He has won more pole positions than any other active driver with nine, including the last two poles for the Coca-Cola 600. But when it comes to race time, Newman is still winless. It’s a stat that haunts him.

“The qualifying success has been great, but we need to have the same performance in the race,” said Newman, who has finished second twice, in October 2003 and May 2009.

Newman is in good company. He’s among a number of high-profile NASCAR drivers still searching for first wins at Charlotte, including Carl Edwards, who edged ever closer to the goal by winning the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race last weekend, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.

Although Newman downplays the importance of qualifying, he will still be gunning for his 10th overall during tonight’s Windstream Pole Night qualifying.

During practice in the heat of the day Thursday, Newman was 5th fastest overall, putting up a top lap of 187.728 mph. Newman knows how to go fast on the 1.5-mile superspeedway layout and likely has more than that for Thursday’s qualifying effort. He won last year’s pole position with a speed of 187.546 mph and 2009 at 188.475 mph. He holds the track qualifying record of 192.988 mph, set in May 2005.

Even if Newman adds another pole to his résumé, he will still be well short of the overall track record. Newly inducted NASCAR Hall of Fame member David Pearson holds the all-time record with 14.

“And a bunch of those were in a row,” Pearson said emphatically. “Nobody else has ever done that.”

Pearson won every pole position at Charlotte from fall 1973 to fall 1978, a total of 11 straight. Although Pearson acknowledges that records are made to be broken, even he feels safe that no one will ever touch that stat.