Mayfield bounces back at Talladega

Jeremy Mayfield took his third career NASCAR Winston Cup pole in gathering gloom at Talladega

Mayfield bounces back at Talladega

Rain delayed first qualifying until early evening and back-up lights had to be used to enable the drivers to see the circuit.

'This is pretty cool,' said Mayfield. 'We've been struggling all year and to come here and sit on the pole is pretty awesome.'

Bill Elliott was pleased to join him on the front row ahead of reigning champion Dale Jarrett and the legendary Dale Earnhardt.

Jarrett said that the darkness would have been a safety issue if changes to the cars' restrictor plates hadn't reduced speeds and horsepower this season.

'If we were running 210mph that might have been different,' he said. 'What we were running there wasn't a big deal.'

Earnhardt said he had expected better from himself in qualifying:

'I ran high on the first lap and just threw the lap away,' he explained. 'We really didn't get a qualifying lap in practice. Maybe we got carried away on doing all we could to get the car as good as we could.'

Mark Martin, the winner at Martinsville last weekend, completed the top five.

Several big names failed to make it into the top 25 confirmed positions and will have to try for a place in the back half of the starting line-up in tonight's second round qualifying, including ex-CART star Robby Gordon and Winston Cup superstar Jeff Gordon, only 33rd and 34th quickest respectively.

Series leader Bobby Labonte was also in trouble, blowing an engine on his qualifying run and failing to make the top 25. The same fate befell his team-mate and reigning rookie champion Tony Stewart.

Jeff Burton was the other driver in the wars, his oil pump failing before he could even complete an out lap.

First round qualifying times from Talladega:
































































































































1


Jeremy Mayfield


Ford


51.217s


2


Bill Elliott


Ford


51.226s


3


Dale Jarrett


Ford


51.278s


4


Dale Earnhardt


Chevrolet


51.341s


5


Mark Martin


Ford


51.386s


6


Dale Earnhardt Jr


Chevrolet


51.436s


7


Sterling Marlin


Chevrolet


51.454s


8


Mike Skinner


Chevrolet


51.473s


9


Ward Burton


Pontiac


51.481s


10


Ricky Rudd


Ford


51.490s


11


Michael Waltrip


Chevrolet


51.497s


12


Kenny Irwin


Chevrolet


51.499s


13


Johnny Benson


Pontiac


51.519s


14


Chad Little


Ford


51.527s


15


Scott Pruett


Ford


51.577s


16


Dave Blaney


Pontiac


51.583s


17


Rusty Wallace


Ford


51.603s


18


Mike Bliss


Pontiac


51.603s


19


Robert Pressley


Ford


51.638s


20


Jimmy Spencer


Ford


51.639s


21


Kyle Petty


Pontiac


51.647s


22


Stacy Compton


Ford


51.655s


23


Ed Berrier


Ford


51.671s


24


Joe Nemechek


Chevrolet


51.734s


25


John Andretti


Pontiac


51.736s

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