Las Vegas Michael Waltrip and the Pole

Waltrip denied Bud Pole at last minute By Shawn A. Akers LAS VEGAS (March 5, 1999) It's been over seven years since Michael Waltrip won a Bud Pole in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. On Friday, it appeared for quite a while that drought would come...

Waltrip denied Bud Pole at last minute By Shawn A. Akers

LAS VEGAS (March 5, 1999) It's been over seven years since Michael Waltrip won a Bud Pole in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. On Friday, it appeared for quite a while that drought would come to an end.

Bobby Labonte, however, just wouldn't oblige Waltrip. The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac, 50th out of 52 cars to hit the race track during Friday's Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, stole the show from Waltrip by turning a fast lap of 170.643 mph and relegating Waltrip to an outside front row starting spot.

Waltrip, the eighth car to qualify on Friday, blazed around the 1.5-mile paved speedway in a speed of 170.159 mph. The driver of the No. 7 Philips Consumer Communications Chevrolet survived the likes of Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Joe Nemechek until Labonte knocked him from the top spot.

"That was kind of tough to sit through for so long knowing that if you did indeed beat everybody back to Bobby Labonte, there was a pretty good chance that he was going to beat you," Waltrip said. "Everybody was talking about Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. I was kind of looking at everybody.

"I came from out of left field up front, so I knew that meant a lot of other people had the same opportunity. We had a good lap, but I was talking to Joe (Nemechek) and neither one of our laps was perfect. Evidently, Bobby's was pretty close.

"We both slipped up there in three and four. We came out here wanting to have a chance to win the (Winston 'No Bull 5') million. So much is made of it. I'm not worried about it, and this is no bull."

Waltrip indeed is one of five drivers who have a chance to win the Winston "No Bull 5" million bonus on Sunday. Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Irwin and Mike Skinner are the other four.

Waltrip has two career Bud Poles. He earned both of those while driving a Pontiac for Chuck Rider in 1991 at Bahari' Racing.

The runner-up finish on Friday was Waltrip's first top-10 qualifying effort of the season. He started from the 13th position and finished fifth in the Daytona 500, and qualified 28th and finished 20th in the Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway two weeks ago.

"I'm just a thankful driver for a great crew," Waltrip said. "I told them what it was doing in practice, and we were running decent in practice. They thought they could fix it, and they didn't even tell me what it was.

"I think there was a bumper sticker, sit down, shut up and drive. That's what I did. It was almost a great lap. I got into it over here (turns three and four). When I nailed it, if it had stuck, I would have looked like a hero. It didn't. I had to back off, but I thought it was pretty good."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Joe Nemechek