Burton falls just short at Charlotte Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 1998) For quite a while Wednesday night, it looked as though no one, not even Jeff Gordon, would knock Ward Burton off the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup...
Burton falls just short at Charlotte Shawn A. Akers
CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 1998) For quite a while Wednesday night, it looked as though no one, not even Jeff Gordon, would knock Ward Burton off the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Burton, who qualified eighth during the twilight of the North Carolina event, turned a lap of 182.569 mph, a speed that only John Andretti (182.217 mph) challenged for nearly an hour. But destiny just wasn't on Burton's side Wednesday, as it has been for Gordon for the last five years in the spring race at Charlotte.
Gordon went out late, and pushed Burton, who holds the qualifying record at the track of over 184 mph, out of the top spot with a fast lap of 182.976 mph.
"We did the best we could, and it just wasn't quite good enough," said Burton, whose last Bud Pole came in the Hanes 500 at Martinsville last fall. "There's no question the draw killed us. When I went out, the sun was still up there.
"This track speeds up with cloud cover or the sun going behind the stands. It was a good lap, though. This Pontiac ran well and the motor ran well. The only thing that could beat us was the weather because of our early draw."
The driver of the No. 22 MBNA Pontiac hit the track at around 7:10 p.m. Gordon went out on the track after 8 p.m., well after the sun had disappeared behind the grandstands.
"For me, I just ran as hard as I could run," said Gordon, who won his fifth straight pole for the Coca-Cola 600, tying David Pearson's record of five straight Coca-Cola poles set from 1974 to '78. "I knew it was a good lap, but I didn't think it was going to be enough to beat Ward Burton. I knew how good his lap was. I just kept my fingers crossed."
Burton said the only thing he could have done to turn a faster lap was to be a little more aggressive.
"I've got a good car under me," Burton said. "The guys have done a really great job of giving me good cars to qualify. I don't know what changes I'd make to make it any better. Of course, I would have liked to qualify about 30 minutes later with that sun under the clouds. To run that quick, particularly that early, the car was really on the money."
Source: NASCAR Online