Stewart edges out the ‘Pole King’

NASCAR 'Pole King' Rusty Wallace thought he had continued his amazing dominance of qualifying at Pocono Raceway, until whirlwind sophomore Tony Stewart came out after a short rain delay to take the Bud Pole Award for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

Stewart edges out the ‘Pole King’

Stewart broke Wallace's record (52.440s, 171.625 mph), set just five weeks ago, with a lap around the 2.5-mile triangular track of 52.207s at 172.391 mph, grabbing his first 2000 Bud Pole and his first since August 1999 - 53 races ago at Bristol Motor Speedway. Today's effort at Pocono is the Pontiac driver's third series career pole.

Wallace's Penske South Ford will start on the outside of the front row, with Mark Martin's Roush Racing Ford in the third spot. The top-three qualifiers were the only drivers to exceed the June speed record.

Rounding out the top five of the 25 drivers who locked up a qualifying spot for Sunday's race are Jeremy Mayfield and Jeff Gordon.

Qualifying began under a blue sky with the temperature in the mid-70s. It looked like it would be a typical Pocono Friday with Wallace coming out early and piloting his Miller Lite Ford Taurus to a new qualifying record.

Gordon started off with a good effort, setting a new track record as the third driver on the track. His joy was short-lived as Martin bested his effort soon thereafter and recorded the fastest time in the early going. Martin's new track record time of 52.433s held up to the challenge of a number of drivers, falling only when Wallace pulled out what has become his Pocono norm.

As the field continued their attempts for Sunday's race, the sunny skies turned dark and a smattering of rain began to fall, first in turn two and then moving to turn three. NASCAR officials briefly stopped the qualifying session until Mother Nature decided to cooperate.

As the sun reappeared, there were four drivers left with a chance to best Wallace's time. Stewart took his best shot at Wallace, and when the time was posted the crowd on hand was surprised - pole for the Joe Gibbs Pontiac driver.

Wallace pointed out in the post qualifying press conference that the cars run faster as the temperature drops. The brief rain and overcast conditions were just the right combination for Stewart, who took advantage of it. Stewart, meanwhile, said that he was happy with his qualifying time, but that he is always concentrating on the race and not on qualifying.

Statistically, perhaps Mark Martin is best placed for a win on Sunday. Third on the grid is the spot that has supplied the most winners, and the Ford man is determined to end his 2000 duck.

Ted Musgrave steps into the number 01 Bell South Chevrolet Monte Carlo, replacing Kenny Irwin, who was tragically killed at New Hampshire a fortnight ago. Sadly, the Wisconsin veteran could only set the 39th fastest time and with only 25 grid slots determined yesterday, he must join 20 other drivers in second-round qualifying to determine the remainder of the 43-car grid.

Pocono Raceway - July 21, 2000
Long Pond, Pa.

Pos Driver Make Time Speed
1 20 Tony Stewart Pont 52.207 172.391
2 2 Rusty Wallace Ford 52.278 172.157
3 6 Mark Martin Ford 52.433 171.648
4 12 Jeremy Mayfield Ford 52.465 171.543
5 24 Jeff Gordon Chev 52.479 171.497
6 25 Jerry Nadeau Chev 52.493 171.451
7 94 Bill Elliott Ford 52.533 171.321
8 99 Jeff Burton Ford 52.537 171.308
9 10 Johnny Benson Pont 52.573 171.191
10 1 Steve Park Chev 52.605 171.086
11 88 Dale Jarrett Ford 52.607 171.080
12 43 John Andretti Pont 52.639 170.976
13 18 Bobby Labonte Pont 52.754 170.603
14 28 Ricky Rudd Ford 52.754 170.603
15 8 D. Earnhardt Jr Chev 52.764 170.571
16 33 Joe Nemechek Chev 52.823 170.380
17 31 Mike Skinner Chev 52.829 170.361
18 93 Dave Blaney Pont 52.862 170.255
19 11 Brett Bodine Ford 52.947 169.981
20 77 Robert Pressley Ford 52.972 169.901
21 7 Michael Waltrip Chev 52.978 169.882
22 5 Rich Bickle Chev 53.055 169.635
23 16 Kevin Lepage Ford 53.061 169.616
24 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 53.065 169.603
25 3 Dale Earnhardt Chev 53.070 169.587

26 55 Kenny Wallace Chev 53.118 169.434
27 26 Jimmy Spencer Ford 53.149 169.335
28 36 Ken Schrader Pont 53.167 169.278
29 97 Chad Little Ford 53.179 169.240
30 75 W. Dallenbach Ford 53.195 169.189
31 44 Kyle Petty Pont 53.202 169.167
32 32 Scott Pruett Ford 53.209 169.144
33 40 Sterling Marlin Chev 53.238 169.052
34 14 Rick Mast Pont 53.259 168.986
35 21 Elliott Sadler Ford 53.262 168.976
36 22 Ward Burton Pont 53.273 168.941
37 9 Stacy Compton Ford 53.443 168.404
38 60 Geoffrey Bodine Chev 53.501 168.221
39 01 Ted Musgrave Chev 53.513 168.183
40 66 Darrell Waltrip Ford 53.568 168.011
41 27 Mike Bliss Pont 53.617 167.857
42 4 Bobby Hamilton Chev 53.625 167.832
43 71 Dave Marcis Chev 53.829 167.196
44 90 Ed Berrier Ford 54.440 165.320
45 85 Carl Long Ford 55.040 163.517

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