Bobby Labonte sets recond on his way to pole

Current NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship points leader Bobby Labonte set a new qualifying record on Saturday and grabbed his 20th career Bud Pole in 250 races, September 16, after rain washed away Friday's scheduled first round for the Dura Lube 300

Bobby Labonte sets recond on his way to pole

Labonte didn't exactly blister the track with his tour in 29.842 seconds at 127.632 mph - the intent of the sanctioning body in requiring 1-inch restrictor plates for the first time at the flat 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway. Labonte's top speed, however, was not far from the non-restrictor plate qualifying record set by Rusty Wallace on July 7, 2000 (28.835 seconds at 132.089 mph).

"I think the speeds are about a second slower," Labonte said, "but I'm driving all the way down to the corner before I let off the gas. So, at some point, you'd have to say that going slower is probably not the right answer."

Jeff Burton was second quick with a lap around in 29.937 seconds at 127.227 mph. Burton was on the Bud Pole at Richmond International Raceway last weekend for the Monte Carlo 400, and Labonte was on the outside of the front row.

Burton clicked off laps at one of the nation's most famous flat tracks mid-week - The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisc. The Winston Cup Series does not visit Milwaukee on their tour - the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National and Craftsman Trucks Series each pay a visit once during the season. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver, Steve Park, was also on hand the same day to test for the restrictor plate event at NHIS and Park qualified sixth for the Dura Lube 300.

"We worked on just race set-up [at Milwaukee]," said Burton, "and worked on just qualifying setups since we've been here. We worked real hard at it. We didn't wait to come here, we went and tried to get some nformation before we got here."

Labonte's effort is the third time this season a Pontiac has been on the point. Ford has16 Bud Poles, with Chevrolet owning six. Labonte started on the Pole at Watkins Glen last month after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by owner points.

Sterling Marlin, Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace round out the top-five.

Four Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidates made the starting lineup on time: Mike Bliss (10th), Dale Earnhardt, Jr., (20th), Stacy Compton (24th) and Scott Pruett (33rd). Matt Kenseth had to take a provisional.

Second-place championship points driver, Dale Earnhardt, had to take a provisional start along with Kenseth, Robert Pressley, Dave Blaney, Wally Dallenbach, Jr., Joe Bessey (who takes the wheel of the #60 Power Team Chevrolet after dismissing Geoffrey Bodine) and Hut Stricklin. Steve Grissom and Dave Marcis failed to qualify.

Following Park in sixth, are Elliott Sadler, Jerry Nadeau, Ken Schrader and Bliss filling out the top-10.

Grid
Bobby Labonte Pont 29.842s
Jeff Burton Ford 29.937s
Sterling Marlin Chev 29.965s
Dale Jarrett Ford 29.973s
Rusty Wallace Ford 29.997s
Steve Park Chev 30.005s
Elliott Sadler Ford 30.010s
Jerry Nadeau Chev 30.048s
Ken Schrader Pont 30.069 s
Mike Bliss Pont 30.078s
Ted Musgrave Chev 30.094s
Ricky Craven Chev 30.094s
Bobby Hamilton Chev 30.122s
Mark Martin Ford 30.126s
Tony Stewart Pont 30.131s
Jeremy Mayfield Ford 30.156s
Jeff Gordon Chev 30.157s
Ricky Rudd Ford 30.192s
Dale Earnhardt Jr Chev 30.194s
Bill Elliott Ford 30.203s
Brett Bodine Ford 30.207s
Mike Skinner Chev 30.216s
Stacy Compton Ford 30.221s
Kenny Wallace Chev 30.229s
Rick Mast Pont 30.252s
Johnny Benson Pont 30.253s
Ward Burton Pont 30.257s
Jimmy Spencer Ford 30.274s
Joe Nemechek Chev 30.278s
John Andretti Pont 30.289s
Kevin Lepage Ford 30.298s
Scott Pruett Ford 30.317s
Terry Labonte Chev 30.348s
Chad Little Ford 30.402s
Darrell Waltrip Ford 30.424s
Dale Earnhardt Chev Provisional
Matt Kenseth Ford Provisional
Robert Pressley Ford Provisional
Dave Blaney Pont Provisional
Wally Dallenbach Ford Provisional
Joe Bessey Chev Provisional
Hut Stricklin Ford Provisional


Steve Grissom Dave Marcis










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