Ryan Newman takes Sprint Cup pole at New Hampshire

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The “Rocketman” returned today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as Ryan Newman secured his second pole of the season for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 – the second race of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Newman, who sits eighth in the championship after finishing 10th last weekend in the post-season opener at Chicagoland Speedway, whipped around NHMS in track-record lap of 136.497 miles per hour.

“I’ve sat in here several times and probably on at least six other occasions, and said this was the birth place of track position,” Newman said on Friday afternoon. “And I strongly feel that it is in qualifying well and having that number one pit stall at the start of the race up front in clean air and all the things that go along with it.

“More important is the confidence to know that you have the fastest race car or at least can make it the fastest race car.”

Newman’s lap was enough to top the best from fellow Chaser and Chevy pilot Kasey Kahne, who turned in a time of 136.082 mph that was good enough for the outside of the front row.

Chase contenders will take up eight of the Top 10 starting positions for Sunday’s event. In addition to Newman and Kahne on Row 1, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch will line up on Row 2. Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick start on the outside of Row 3 and 4 respectively, and Row 5 features last week’s winner and Chase leader Matt Kenseth as well as Greg Biffle.

The two lone non-Chase drivers in the first five rows are Martin Truex Jr. in P5 and Paul Menard in P7.

As for the other Chasers, Jimmie Johnson qualified 11th; Kyle Busch in 12th; Clint Bowyer in 16th; Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 17th; and Carl Edwards in 26th.

UPDATE 2: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama once again under red-flag race stoppage

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UPDATE No. 2: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was closing in on restarting on Lap 23 or 24 before officials threw the second red flag race stoppage because of lingering puddles on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park, particularly on the front stretch. We’ll keep you updated as situations warrant.

UPDATE No. 1: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.