LOUDON, N.H. – As rain hit the track Friday, five drivers were parked waiting for a qualifying turn that might not come.

Led by Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, the five could afford to have their laps called because of rain: They were the five fastest in practice and would have started up front Sunday had qualifying been wiped out.

Kurt Busch wanted them to get going or his top-five qualifying lap would have been erased, and the washout would have dumped him back into the 30s.

The rain eased up, leading to some rare pole-day drama. Ryan Newman was the last car out and the fastest at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, turning a lap of 135.002 mph to win the pole for the second time this season at one of his favorite tracks.

“I don’t think I’ve seen that much drama go into the last five cars in qualifying,” Newman said.

Newman started first at New Hampshire in July and went on to earn his only win of the season. He is seventh in the points standings and has three poles this year.

Red Bull Racing drivers Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers were second and third, respectively. Greg Biffle and Busch rounded out the top five.

When the rain came, Vickers sat on the pole. Juan Pablo Montoya was next in line and refused to take a turn when NASCAR asked if he wanted to run before the rain picked up from a drizzle. So the drivers waited through a 51-minute delay.

When officials decided it was clear enough to run, Montoya turned in a miserable lap and qualified 31st.

Montoya was visibly agitated as he criticized the decision to qualify and said it was still raining at the track.

“We’ve got a car fast enough to be on the pole,” he said. “It’s a joke.”

Johnson, the five-time defending champion, was behind Montoya. He declined an opportunity to go ahead of Montoya shortly before the cars were covered on pit row. Once the track was dried and ready to race, each driver had the option to go out and lay down his qualifying lap.