Rudd cements his Brickyard reputation

Ricky Rudd will start on the pole for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Rudd cements his Brickyard reputation

Rudd won the prestigious event in 1997 as an owner/driver. Not so now, however, as Rudd pilots the number 28 Texaco Havoline Taurus out of the Robert Yates Racing stables.

The Indy pole is the second for the Virginian this season, his first at the world-famous track and the 26th in his 681 race career.

Rudd toured the 2.5-mile speedway in 49.705 seconds (181.068 mph), officially breaking the track qualifying record set last August by Jeff Gordon. In a super-quick qualifying session, 11 other drivers also bested Gordon's mark.

After his run, Rudd wasn't so confident that his time would stand as fastest of the afternoon.

"I don't think it's gonna hold up," said Rudd, "but I think it's gonna be somewhere in the top five or top seven. We're real pleased with that.

"This is our back-up car," he added. "We wrecked the number one car, which we tested up here a couple of weeks ago. We destroyed it at Pocono, so we had to roll out a car that we weren't real comfortable with, so I couldn't be happier with all the hours these guys put in. They gave us a good, fast car."

Maybe the biggest surprise of the first day of qualifying was the performance of veteran Darrell Waltrip, who will start on the outside in his final Brickyard 400.

Waltrip had the fastest time until Rudd came out some twenty-plus cars later. Waltrip clicked off a lap of 49.745s (180.923mph) in his best qualifying effort since Atlanta in November 1995, when he took the Bud Pole. Waltrip finished fourth to Rudd in the 1997 event.

"We could be on any other speedway - maybe Daytona - but if it was anywhere else you may not have as big a thrill as you do here at Indy," said Waltrip, whose trip down pit road after his fast lap brought fans to their feet and thunderous applause.

"I'm gonna see if Ricky will work with me and let me drop down in front of him since he beat me for the pole," he added. "Maybe he'll let me drop in front of him and lead that first lap or two anyway. Being on the outside, it's something you have to think about. "

Waltrip was followed by current Series points leader Bobby Labonte, Jeremy Mayfield and defending Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Mike Skinner and Rusty Wallace round out the top 10 for Saturday's race.

Among drivers who failed to qualify on the first day were Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Ken Schrader, Kyle Petty, Rookie contenders Matt Kenseth and Stacy Compton, and Joe Nemechek.

Terry Labonte is shown in the 25th and final qualifying position for first-round, however it was Todd Bodine behind the wheel. Labonte is still recovering from the broken leg he suffered at Daytona International Speedway last month.

This is the first time Gordon has failed to qualify in the top-25 in his seven races at Indianapolis. He qualified 24th in 1997, but his remaining five qualifying efforts at Indianapolis were third or better, including three Bud Poles.

Second round qualifying takes place today to determine the rest of the 43-car grid.

1 28 Ricky Rudd, Texaco Havoline Ford, 49.705s, 181.068mph
2 66 Darrell Waltrip, Route 66/Big Kmart Ford, 49.745, 180.923
3 18 Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac, 49.763, 180.857
4 12 Jeremy Mayfield, Mobil 1 Ford, 49.772, 180.825
5 88 Dale Jarrett, Quality Care Service Ford, 49.807, 180.697
6 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Budweiser Chevrolet, 49.854, 180.527
7 94 Bill Elliott, McDonald's Ford, 49.876, 180.448
8 3 Dale Earnhardt, GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet, 49.891, 180.393
9 31 Mike Skinner, Lowe's Chevrolet, 49.912, 180.317
10 2 Rusty Wallace, Miller Lite Ford, 49.916, 180.303
11 32 Scott Pruett, Tide Ford, 49.921, 180.285
12 6 Mark Martin, Valvoline/Cummins Ford, 49.970, 180.108
13 10 Johnny Benson, MB2 Motorsports Pontiac, 50.003, 179.989
14 7 Michael Waltrip, NationsRent Chevrolet, 50.143, 179.487
15 43 John Andretti, Cheerios Pontiac, 50.165, 179.408
16 22 Ward Burton, Caterpillar Pontiac, 50.167, 179.401
17 55 Kenny Wallace, Square D Chevrolet, 50.171, 179.386
18 20 Tony Stewart, Home Depot Pontiac, 50.195, 179.301
19 77 Robert Pressley, Jasper Engines & Trans. Ford, 50.199, 179.286
20 40 Sterling Marlin, Coors Light Chevrolet, 50.200, 179.283
21 26 Jimmy Spencer, Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford, 50.201, 179.279
22 1 Steve Park, Pennzoil Chevrolet, 50.207, 179.258
23 25 Jerry Nadeau, Michael Chevrolet, 50.219, 179.215
24 14 Rick Mast, Conseco Pontiac, 50.232, 179.169
25 5 Todd Bodine, Kellogg's Chevrolet, 50.344, 178.770

26 21 Elliott Sadler, CITGO Ford, 50.350, 178.749
27 24 Jeff Gordon, DuPont Chevrolet, 50.351, 178.745
28 50 Ricky Craven, Midwest Transit Ford, 50.351, 178.745
29 75 Wally Dallenbach, RedCell Batteries Ford, 50.355, 178.731
30 4 Bobby Hamilton, Kodak Chevrolet, 50.356, 178.727
31 99 Jeff Burton, Exide Batteries Ford, 50.358, 178.720
32 27 Mike Bliss, Pfizer/Viagra Pontiac, 50.441, 178.426
33 33 Joe Nemechek, Oakwood Homes Chevrolet, 50.448, 178.402
34 90 Hut Stricklin, Hills Bros Coffee Ford, 50.450, 178.394
35 01 Ted Musgrave, BellSouth Chevrolet, 50.458, 178.366
36 95 David Keith, Sadler Motorsports Ford, 50.479, 178.292
37 36 Ken Schrader, M&M's Pontiac, 50.519, 178.151
38 93 Dave Blaney, Amoco Pontiac, 50.566, 177.985
39 9 Stacy Compton, Kodiak Ford, 50.639, 177.729
40 13 Robby Gordon, Turtle Wax Ford, 50.647, 177.701
41 17 Matt Kenseth, DeWalt Tools Ford, 50.660, 177.655
42 97 Chad Little, John Deere Ford, 50.833, 177.050
43 44 Kyle Petty, Hot Wheels Pontiac, 50.956, 176.623
44 11 Brett Bodine, Ralphs Supermarkets Ford, 51.159, 175.922
45 71 Dave Marcis, Realtree Chevrolet, 51.199, 175.785
46 16 Kevin Lepage, Ford, 51.248, 175.617
47 61 Rich Bickle, Coulter Motorsports Chevrolet, 51.284, 175.493
48 52 Bill Baird, Baird Motorsports Chevrolet, 51.650, 174.250
49 60 Geoffrey Bodine, Power Team Chevrolet, DNF

Bodine sets track record in second qualifying

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