Tony Stewart outdoes Jeff Gordon for Loudon pole

NASCAR Nextel Cup series point leader Tony Stewart grabbed the top spot for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Stewart's lap of 131.143 mph just outdid Jeff Gordon for the best time. "It's a perfect place to start...

NASCAR Nextel Cup series point leader Tony Stewart grabbed the top spot for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Stewart's lap of 131.143 mph just outdid Jeff Gordon for the best time.

"It's a perfect place to start when you are in the Chase everything is behind us now and it's good to start up front," said Stewart. "We've done everything we need to do this weekend. Our car is really good in race trim.we have done everything we need to do as a team this weekend."

It is his second pole of the season and ninth of his career. Stewart won the race here earlier this year.

"Easy -- just like we did the spring race here," Stewart explained when asked how he would approach the race Sunday. "That's exactly the same approach we're coming here this weekend. We're not doing anything any different. Obviously we're battling the weather here a little bit but our goal is to go out and win the race right now.

"So it's really no different than the way we were in the spring."

Gordon will start on the outside pole. It is Gordon's ninth top-five start of the season.

"I'm excited about Steve (LeTarte, new crew chief) this weekend," said Gordon. "The guy is from New England and has worked for our organization for a long time from the ground up. I know Rick Hendrick is extremely proud of the organization and how they've been able to grow people into these positions.

"You look at the crew chiefs in the Busch Series with the No. 5 and the No. 25. Those are all guys who have been in the organization for a long period of time or have started from the ground up."

Gordon has three career wins and 12 top-ten results at NHIS.

"We've had a lot going on this week and it's been a tough season for us," Gordon said. "But we've already run good here.the car was great today, we missed it by just that slight amount. But for us right now being on that front row is great."

The crew chief switch also seems to be paying dividends for the No. 8 Chevy team. Earnhardt is on the board in third; it is his best starting spot of the season and only his second top-five spot in 2005.

"The track was good when I went out," Earnhardt commented. "I had a good qualifying run yesterday and it was comfortable and it was comfortable today. The adjustments we made were right on."

Matt Kenseth and Scott Riggs complete the top five.

"It was good for us," said Riggs. "We wanted to actually scuff our tires yesterday but didn't get a chance too. So, the first lap we really slid around a lot and it finally started coming in on our second lap. That's when we picked up a lot. I am really happy with that."

Kirk Shelmerdine failed to make his time-trial run; leaving forty-eight cars vying for forty-three starting spots. Those who botched a chance on the grid are Carl Long, Morgan Shepard, Stanton Barrett, Mike Garvey and Tony Raines.

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Tony Raines , Scott Riggs , Kirk Shelmerdine , Stanton Barrett , Carl Long , Mike Garvey