Qualifying: Labonte surges to pole

Bobby Labonte claimed his fourth pole position of the season in qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, outpacing Ryan Newman in a session delayed by rain for nearly two hours

Qualifying: Labonte surges to pole

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver lapped the speedway in 37.847s to claim the top honours at Michigan for the second time this season. Labonte also started from pole position for the earlier Winston Cup race held at the track in June.

Track conditions appeared to favour those running early in the session, when the track was cool and the sky was overcast. As the storm clouds drifted away the sun emerged, and the track appeared to lose some of its speed. Six of the top ten qualifiers came from the first 12 cars to make their qualifying runs. Labonte ran 16th in the session.

Newman's second-place qualifying effort ensures he will start from the front row for a ninth time this season. Robby Gordon, who won last week's NASCAR race on the road course at Watkins Glen, lines up third, ahead of a surprising performance from Winston cup and Busch Series irregular Kevin Lepage.

Terry Labonte, the older brother of the pole-sitter, will start fifth, ahead of Jason Leffler. Brazilian Champ Car convert Christian Fittipaldi put in a highly impressive performance in his Petty Enterprises Dodge to qualify seventh at a track he knows well from his CART days.

Runaway points leader Matt Kenseth ran 41st out of the 44 cars and could only manage the 33rd fastest time. However, his primary rivals Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon failed to capitalise fully, qualifying 19th and 21st fastest respectively.

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