Wallace takes pole at Rockingham

The first of the "normal" superspeedway races of the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit will start with Rusty Wallace on the pole in his Ford Taurus.

Wallace takes pole at Rockingham

Wallace scorched a new track record at "The Rock" - the one mile oval of North Carolina Speedway.

No less heartening to diehard Ford fans was a lap by new Yates' driver Ricky Rudd good enough for outside front row.

But Wallace was in his own time zone, touring the speedway in 23.167 seconds for a speed of 158.035 mph.

That was a full mile faster than Rudd and the rest of the field.

Unlike Daytona, the field appeared level for all three car makes as Bobby Labonte in his Pontiac and Dale Earnhardt's Chevrolet comprise the second row, followed by Jeff Gordon and rookies Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Joe Nemechek, a resurgent Bill Elliott and veteran Darrell Waltrip round out the top ten.

Earnhardt [Sr] and Waltrip were lucky to even qualify in the first round last year.

But Waltrip, in his final year as an active driver - and Earnhardt competing against his son and a dismal pole record, pulled out the stops under sunny skies.

Perhaps an even bigger surprise was Mark Martin, defending champion and winner of pole qualifying for Saturday's Busch race.

A sick car left him 44th fastest of 47 trying.

Rockingham is a tyre-unfriendly, treacherous track and thus speed is only part of the equation in Sunday's Kmart 400 event, the first non-restricted carburetor race of the long season.

Wallace mastered this event in his 1993-94 salad days when he mustered a 10 and eight win season, respectively.

Prior to that, this was the track where Kyle Petty seemed to own the keys to Victory Lane.

He led the 1990 event from pole to pole, winning the largest pole bonus and payday to date in the rural sand hills of North Carolina.

Today he could only muster 13th fastest; not a bad number compared to Daytona 500 winner/polesitter Dale Jarrett who was good enough for 23rd place.

Qualifying for the remainder of the 43-car field is set for Saturday.




















































































































































































































































Position


Driver


Car


Time set


1


R Wallace


Ford


23.167


2


R Rudd


Ford


23.315


3


B Labonte


Pontiac


23.320


4


D Earnhardt


Chevrolet


23.354


5


J Gordon


Chevrolet


23.356


6


M Kenseth


Ford


23.376


7


D Earnhardt Jr


Chevrolet


23.397


8


J Nemechek


Chevrolet


23.403


9


B Elliott


Ford


23.410


10


D Waltrip


Ford


23.416


11


W Burton


Pontiac


23.426


12


M Skinner


Chevrolet


23.428


13


K Petty


Pontiac


23.446


14


S Marlin


Chevrolet


23.475


15


T Stewart


Pontiac


23.478


16


J Burton


Ford


23.504


17


T Labonte


Chevrolet


23.506


18


S Park


Chevrolet


23.508


19


K Wallace


Chevrolet


23.529


20


J Andretti


Pontiac


23.531


21


S Compton


Ford


23.534


22


J Nadeau


Chevrolet


23.537


23


D Jarrett


Ford


23.546


24


M Waltrip


Chevrolet


23.555


25


R Gordon


Ford


23.569


26


E Sadler


Ford


23.577


27


J Mayfield


Ford


23.617


28


K LePage


Ford


23.619


29


R Mast


Chevrolet


23.621


30


J Fuller


Pontiac


23.621


31


K Irwin


Chevrolet


23.635


32


B Bodine


Ford


23.644


33


J Benson


Pontiac


23.674


34


J Spencer


Ford


23.684


35


K Schrader


Pontiac


23.691


36


C Little


Ford


23.714


37


D Marcis


Chevrolet


23.726


38


R Craven


Chevrolet


23.733


39


B Hamilton


Chevrolet


23.738


40


D Blaney


Pontiac


23.765


41


E Berrier


Ford


23.777


42


W Dallenbach


Ford


23.783


43


T Musgrave


Chevrolet


23.786


44


M Martin


Ford


23.805


45


R Pressley


Ford


23.810


46


S Pruett


Ford


23.848


47


M Bliss


Pontiac


23.855

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