JUSTIN, TX - Jason Keller posted a lap of 187.474 mph to take the Busch Series pole at Texas Motor Speedway. The ppc Racing driver led the Ford sweep of the top four qualifying positions. It is Keller's tenth career pole, and his first since last August at Bristol.
"This place is fast," said Keller. "Last year it felt fast and to me this year felt fast, too."
Keller's lap is nearly six miles an hour slower, though, than the lap charted by last year's polesitter, Jeff Green. After the track was resurfaced in the off-season, none of the drivers were able to approach Green's blistering 193.493 mph lap speed. On the upside, the slower track conditions prompted hope that the reduced speeds would allow for a more competitive side-by-side action race.
Stanton Barrett starts on the outside pole, with his best starting position this year in actual on-track qualifying, instead of the field being set by owner points. Barrett and his Roush Racing team changed rear-end gearing several times during practice sessions to come up with the right qualifying set-up.
"We're flying more gears in tonight for the race," Barrett joked. Race day will be Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
The U.S. Marine driver Bobby Hamilton, Jr. was third in the Team Rensi Motorsports' Ford. Keller's teammate Scott Riggs was fourth, and Brian Vickers put his Hendrick Motorsports' Chevy in fifth.
Riggs, however, will have to start at the back of the pack on Saturday. After posting the fourth best time, Riggs crashed his primary car on the second lap.