Bobby Labonte on pole

Sometimes it's good to be next to last and Bobby Labonte would most likely agree with that thought, writes Karen Van Allen. Labonte had to wait his turn for 44 other NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers to put down their best lap before his 'number' was up.

Bobby Labonte on pole

When his time and speed were finally posted, a surprised Labonte had not only taken the Bud Pole Award - the 19th of his series career - for the Kmart 400 at Michigan Speedway, he obliterated Ward Burton's previous track record of 188.843mph, set last August. Labonte toured the 2-mile venue in 37.918 seconds, at a blistering pace of 189.883mph. His last Bud Pole was for the UAW-GM 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in October, 1999.

"(The crew) told me what we ran and I was like, 'Well that is just truly amazing.' I don't know what happened," said Labonte, still stunned at the official results.

"It blew me away."

Ricky Rudd was the provisional polewinner before Labonte hit the racing surface. Rudd's effort was a lap around in 38.091 seconds, at 189.021 mph. The defending series champion and Kmart 400 racewinner Dale Jarrett, Rudd's teammate, didn't complete his lap which came right before Rudd's.

"It was a good lap. I know my team-mate Dale Jarrett had a little trouble right before it was time for me to go out, so I tried to just block it out," Rudd said.

"These guys worked really hard on this Texaco/Havoline Taurus. It's been getting better and better, and faster and faster, and I'm just the one benefiting from it today."

Jarrett, who dominated last year's event, watched his opportunity go up in smoke when the engine let go.

"Going into turn three I felt it and then it just let go," said a disappointed Jarrett. "Everything was great right up until then."

"We don't want to (start deep in the field), but we have no choice now, so we'll just get ready to race. It's a long 400 miles, so if you have a good car, it won't matter where you start."

Jeff Gordon snagged his fourth top-5 in the 13 events so far this season, and appeared pleased with his third place effort.

"I was hoping I could put together a good lap at both ends of the track. We did.

"I was surprised. I wasn't expecting to run as good of a lap as I did. We haven't qualified as well as we needed to all year long."

Rusty Wallace will start fourth, followed by Joe Nemechek. Rounding out the top-10 are Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Burton, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt and John Andretti.

Some other notables failed to make the grid during first round on Friday. Tony Stewart, Mike Skinner, Kyle Petty, Jimmy Spencer, Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte.

Bud Second Round Fastest Qualifying is set to take place today (Saturday).


shares
comments
Tony Stewart cruises to victory at Dover

Previous article

Tony Stewart cruises to victory at Dover

Next article

Jarrett regroups for 2nd round fast

Jarrett regroups for 2nd round fast
Load comments
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021
Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines Plus

Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines

The American stock car scene is more famous for its close racing and occasional punch-ups, but there have been some fantastic machines too. As part of Autosport's 70th anniversary celebrations in 2020, we picked out five of its best

NASCAR
Jan 3, 2021
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Plus

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future

NASCAR
Nov 17, 2020
Why Johnson’s playoff failure won’t tarnish his legacy Plus

Why Johnson’s playoff failure won’t tarnish his legacy

The last season of a retiring NASCAR great has shown promise, and may have resulted in another playoff push without small issues outside his control. 2020 won't be the year Jimmie Johnson would have wanted, but it won't be what he is remembered for

NASCAR
Sep 3, 2020