Wallace on pole at Richmond

RICHMOND, VA - Rusty Wallace was 46th out during Bud Pole qualifying for the Pontiac Excitement 400 and wound up at the head of the starting grid, the third time this season, for Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway. While Wallace didn't come close breaking the track qualifying record 126.499 mph set by Jeff Gordon last May, he was fast enough to bump Steve Park to the outside of the front row, lapping the .75-mile 'D' shaped track in 21.645 seconds at an average speed of 124.740 mph - just .042 second faster than Park's hot lap as the 44th qualifier

Wallace on pole at Richmond

"We set it up like a short track and race it like a short track," said Wallace. "In fact, we'll probably have Martinsville shocks on it tomorrow.

"There's no doubt the draw was good," Wallace continued (referring to his 46th place qualifying order), "but this morning we ran a 21.78 and we changed a set of front shock absorbers and the car picked up a little bit over a tenth of a second."

Park will make his fifth top-10 start this 2000 season, and wasn't surprised that Wallace bumped him to the outside.

"I must be like Mr. Outside Pole," Park said, "because we're on the outside pole for the Busch race and the outside pole for the Cup race.

"Has Rusty been in here, yet? I want to yell at him. He's just too good here, and I'm still learning."

Mike Skinner took his #31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo was the 31st car on the track, and will start third on Saturday night.

"We'll take that lap. We're proud of it," said Skinner, "and we'll congratulate Rusty."

For Geoffrey Bodine, however, a fourth place effort is as good as a pole. Bodine, in his first Winston Cup race this season after a horrific wreck during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Daytona 150, climbed back in the car for the first time on Friday evening. Bodine initially qualified third, but was notched back when Wallace took the pole position.

With a string of blue beads in his pocket, given to him by niece Ashley, daughter of Lynn and Todd, Bodine was very happy with his effort.

"She (Ashley) gave them to me before qualifying and I had them in my pocket when I qualified," said Bodine.

Fifth place was snagged by Raybestos Rookie candidate Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who was the last driver out.

"We didn't really practice here that well," said Earnhardt, "but that's normal for us. With the luck of the draw we had, and the temperature gave us a lot of extra grip, I believe, probably improved our time significantly."

Ricky Rudd, Tony Stewart, Wally Dallenbach, Bobby Labonte and Bill Elliott round out the top-10. Kenny Irwin qualified 25th.

Michael Waltrip had a difficult qualifying session. He brushed the wall in Turn 2, stopped halfway down the backstretch and then backed up around the track to the entrance to Turn 1, where he started his 2nd lap over. Waltrip had it the car up to speed coming out of Turn 2, and then brushed the wall off Turn 4 just before the checkers waved on his timed lap. Waltrip wound up 47th.

Bud Second Round Fastest Qualifying is set to take the green flag at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, with the Pontiac Excitement 400 scheduled to begin at 7:30pm

Pontiac Excitement 400 First Round Qualifying
Richmond International Raceway, 5.5.00

1 Rusty Wallace (Ford) 21.645s, 124.740mph
2 Steve Park (Chevrolet) 21.687s

3 Mike Skinner (Chevrolet) 21.688s
4 Geoffrey Bodine (Chevrolet) 21.746s

5 Dale Earnhardt Jr (Chevrolet) 21.776s
6 Ricky Rudd (Ford) 21.782s

7 Tony Stewart (Pontiac) 21.799s
8 Wally Dallenbach (Ford) 21.820s

9 Bobby Labonte (Pontiac) 21.825s
10 Bill Elliott (Ford) 21.838s

11 Mark Martin (Ford) 21.861s
12 John Andretti (Pontiac) 21.863s

13 Ward Burton (Pontiac) 21.869s
14 Ricky Craven (Chevrolet) 21.888s

15 Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) 21.903s
16 Kenny Wallace (Chevrolet) 21.905s

17 Joe Nemechek (Chevrolet) 21.912s
18 Dale Jarrett (Ford) 21.917s

19 Stacy Compton (Ford) 21.918s
20 Jeremy Mayfield (Ford) 21.921s

21 Sterling Marlin (Chevrolet) 21.930s
22 Jimmy Spencer (Ford) 21.936s

23 Johnny Benson (Pontiac) 21.949s
24 Bobby Hamilton (Chevrolet) 21.952s

25 Kenny Irwin (Chevrolet) 21.986s

DID NOT QUALIFY:
26 Chad Little (Ford) 21.990s
27 Robert Pressley (Ford) 22.001s
28 Brett Bodine (Ford) 22.005s
29 Jeff Burton (Ford) 22.012s
30 Terry Labonte (Chevrolet) 22.030s
31 Dale Earnhardt (Chevrolet) 22.031s
32 Dave Blaney (Pontiac) 22.033s
33 Todd Bodine (Chevrolet) 22.037s
34 Ken Schrader (Pontiac) 22.060s
35 Scott Pruett (Ford) 22.077s
36 Robby Gordon (Ford) 22.079s
37 Jerry Nadeau (Chevrolet) 22.080s
38 Rick Mast (Pontiac) 22.100s
39 Kyle Petty (Pontiac) 22.100s
40 Mike Bliss (Pontiac) 22.114s
41 Ed Berrier (Ford) 22.124s
42 Darrell Waltrip (Ford) 22.129s
43 Elliott Sadler (Ford) 22.191s
44 Matt Kenseth (Ford) 22.204s
45 Kevin Lepage (Ford) 22.277s
46 Dave Marcis (Chevrolet) 22.281
47 Michael Waltrip (Chevrolet) 26.171s

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