Burton overcomes series regulars to win Bud Pole By Shawn A. Akers

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 13, 1998) Jeff Burton wasn't surprised at how fast he toured the two-mile Michigan Speedway during Bud Pole Qualifying for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Pepsi 200 presented by DeVilbiss. What shocked him was who wasn't running that fast Thursday.

Burton was a bit surprised at was how much NASCAR Busch Series regulars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth had slowed from their practice times. When all was said and done, Burton had turned a fast lap of 177.052 mph in his No. 9 Track Gear Ford and will start from the point on Saturday.

Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth had posted the two fastest times in the three-hour practice session Thursday with fast laps of 178.611 mph and 177.122 mph, respectively. But Earnhardt Jr. ended the day only 10th-fastest in Bud Pole Qualifying (176.018 mph), while Kenseth managed the sixth-fastest (176.401 mph) time. Burton was third-fastest in the practice session leading up to Bud Pole Qualifying.

"In practice, we had run pretty well off the truck," said Burton, a NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "As a matter of fact, we were real fast off the truck. We picked up a couple of tenths from there, but it was hard to believe just how much Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth slowed down. That was pretty important for us, because those two were really fast early on.

"But I don't think that's uncommon here, because Michigan is a hard track to qualifying on. Sometimes, you're going to be looser in qualifying than in practice. I think we might have out-experienced him (Earnhardt Jr.) a bit. I would bet he got loose and slowed down."

The top 12 drivers beat the previous track qualifying record of 175.511 mph, set last year by Hermie Sadler.

"Generally, when that many people beat the track record, it's the tire," Burton said. "They've not repaved the track or there hasn't been a rule change, so it's definitely the tire. It wasn't cool today. It was a warm day."

David Green, driver of the No. 36 Stanley Tools Pontiac who has five top-five finishes in five starts in that car this season, will sit on the outside of the front row after turning the second-fastest lap in qualifying at 176.895. Dick Trickle (176.600), Elton Sawyer (176.501), Glenn Allen (176.479), Kenseth, Kevin Lepage (176.302), Mark Martin (176.259), Rick Mast (176.125) and Earnhardt Jr., round out the top-10.

Mast, participating in his first NASCAR Busch Series event in quite some time, is substituting for Jimmy Spencer, who is still recovering from injuries suffered in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Brickyard 400 on Aug. 1, in the No. 12 Zippo Chevrolet.

Among those who failed to qualify on Thursday were Todd Bodine (26th), Buckshot Jones (27th), Hermie Sadler (29th), Tim Fedewa (30th), Phil Parsons (32nd), Jason Keller (36th), Ken Schrader (39th) and Ed Berrier (44th). Bud Beer Second-Round Qualifying is set for 10 a.m. on Friday.

The Bud Pole Qualifying session, which determined the top-25 positions for Saturday's race, was marred by an accident involving Gary Laton, driver of the No. 74 Tampico Citrus Punch Chevrolet. Laton, a native of Albemarle, N.C., hit the wall hard in Turn 2 and was transported to a local hospital with possible head and neck injuries.

"I hope he's OK, we're saying a prayer for him and his family," Burton said.

Source: NASCAR Online