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NASCAR NEWS 

Biffle takes Atlanta Cup pole

Greg Biffle scored his first Nextel Cup pole of the season and also his first at Atlanta Motor Speedway, edging Kurt Busch in qualifying for Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500, the seventh race of the Chase for the championship.

The Roush Fenway driver set a time of 28.807 seconds in the late stages of qualifying at the 1.5-mile oval, running at an average speed of 192.453 mph. He beat the previous benchmark set by Busch in his Penske Dodge, by just four thousandths of second.

"Our car was really fast right off the truck," said Biffle, who had been second fastest in practice. "Once I took the green, then I knew the track was good. (Turns) three and four I didn't come out of the gas all the way. I just felt like the car stuck so good down there that I kept the throttle down there.

"It was just a great lap, the car handled so well and the track had so much grip that I was surprised that there were not more guys in the 28s."

Busch was still happy to be on the front row despite losing pole, having set his time very early in the session. Despite being the third car on track to complete his run, his time stood on top of the leaderboard as track conditions apparently improved for those going out later.

"I was ecstatic with the lap at the time that I did it," Busch said. "I thought our qualifying draw would hurt us at the beginning but then it seemed to play out to where the track was fairly even for everybody and maybe even a little slower at the end. I thought we had the speed to get the pole but were just a little shy tonight."

Veteran Dale Jarrett was the surprise of the day, setting the third fastest time, which was by far his best qualifying effort of the year. He was also among the first group of drivers to set a time and his third place starting position is thus far the best for a Toyota on a 1.5-mile oval.

"Perfect racecar, that's all I can say," said Jarrett who was also surprised to be so far up in the end. "I think we just took over the upset of the year from Appalachian State over Michigan. But we can't leave everything to college football. It's just been that kind of year. You just don't know what to expect."

Kasey Kahne, who had been fastest in practice, ended up fourth in qualifying, while Dale Earnhardt Jr completed the top five. Jimmie Johnson, winner of the spring Atlanta race, was the best placed of those running at the front of the Chase in sixth, followed by Ganassi's David Stremme and points leader Jeff Gordon.

Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth will ironically start together in 16th and 17th, just days after a heated exchange at Martinsville, which has raised some tension within the Roush Fenway garages. Three Chase contenders, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr, will follow them in the starting order on Sunday.

Jeremy Mayfield was not much quicker on his Haas CNC debut at the wheel of the No. 66 Chevrolet than he had been in the No. 36 Bill Davis Racing Toyota. However, he made the field thorough owner points status, as did his former teammate Dave Blaney who will start alongside him in the 21st row.

For the sixth time this season Sam Hornish Jr failed to qualify despite having raced well at this track in the Busch Series in March. David Reutimann, Burney Lamar, Ward Burton also failed to qualify as well as Mike Skinner who was making his first attempt to make the field at the wheel of BDR's No. 36 Toyota.

                    
Pos  Driver             Car        Speed    Time
 1.  Greg Biffle        Ford       192.453  28.807
 2.  Kurt Busch         Dodge      192.426  28.811  + 0.004
 3.  Dale Jarrett       Toyota     191.655  28.927  + 0.120
 4.  Kasey Kahne        Dodge      191.595  28.936  + 0.129
 5.  Dale Earnhardt Jr  Chevrolet  191.489  28.952  + 0.145
 6.  Jimmie Johnson     Chevrolet  191.199  28.996  + 0.189
 7.  David Stremme      Dodge      190.975  29.030  + 0.223
 8.  Jeff Gordon        Chevrolet  190.719  29.069  + 0.262
 9.  Ryan Newman        Dodge      190.719  29.069  + 0.262
10.  Elliott Sadler     Dodge      190.706  29.071  + 0.264
11.  Bobby Labonte      Dodge      190.548  29.095  + 0.288
12.  Mark Martin        Chevrolet  190.509  29.101  + 0.294
13.  David Gilliland    Ford       190.365  29.123  + 0.316
14.  Brian Vickers      Toyota     190.247  29.141  + 0.334
15.  Casey Mears        Chevrolet  190.058  29.170  + 0.363
16.  Carl Edwards       Ford       189.818  29.207  + 0.400
17.  Matt Kenseth       Ford       189.818  29.207  + 0.400
18.  Denny Hamlin       Chevrolet  189.779  29.213  + 0.406
19.  Kyle Busch         Chevrolet  189.759  29.216  + 0.409
20.  Martin Truex Jr    Chevrolet  189.740  29.219  + 0.412
21.  Juan Montoya       Dodge      189.694  29.226  + 0.419
22.  JJ Yeley           Chevrolet  189.681  29.228  + 0.421
23.  Joe Nemechek       Chevrolet  189.642  29.234  + 0.427
24.  Michael Waltrip    Toyota     189.610  29.239  + 0.432
25.  Jamie McMurray     Ford       189.532  29.251  + 0.444
26.  Clint Bowyer       Chevrolet  189.428  29.267  + 0.460
27.  Scott Riggs        Dodge      189.409  29.270  + 0.463
28.  Jeff Burton        Chevrolet  189.370  29.276  + 0.469
29.  John Andretti      Dodge      189.273  29.291  + 0.484
30.  Tony Stewart       Chevrolet  189.209  29.301  + 0.494
31.  AJ Allmendinger    Toyota     189.092  29.319  + 0.512
32.  Reed Sorenson      Dodge      188.796  29.365  + 0.558
33.  Robby Gordon       Ford       188.482  29.414  + 0.607
34.  Kevin Harvick      Chevrolet  188.079  29.477  + 0.670
35.  Johnny Sauter      Chevrolet  188.034  29.484  + 0.677
36.  Paul Menard        Chevrolet  187.786  29.523  + 0.716
37.  David Ragan        Ford       187.354  29.591  + 0.784
38.  Ricky Rudd         Ford       187.076  29.635  + 0.828
39.  Kyle Petty         Dodge      186.679  29.698  + 0.891
40.  Tony Raines        Chevrolet  186.478  29.730  + 0.923
41.  Jeremy Mayfield    Chevrolet  185.934  29.817  + 1.010
42.  Dave Blaney        Toyota
43.  Bill Elliott       Ford

Did not qualify:

     Driver             Car        Speed    Time
     David Reutimann    Toyota     188.758  29.371  + 0.564
     Burney Lamar       Dodge      188.738  29.374  + 0.567
     Sam Hornish Jr     Dodge      188.655  29.387  + 0.580
     Ward Burton        Chevrolet  187.697  29.537  + 0.730
     Mike Skinner       Toyota     187.665  29.542  + 0.735
             

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