Bobby Labonte breaks track record, lands pole at Vegas

Bobby Labonte breaks track record, lands pole at Vegas

Bobby Labonte, taking to the track late in the qualifying session, broke the Las Vegas track record and landed on the polem with a lap of 173.02 in the Joe Gibbs No. 18 Chevrolet. Labonte took the pole away from four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff...

Bobby Labonte, taking to the track late in the qualifying session, broke the Las Vegas track record and landed on the polem with a lap of 173.02 in the Joe Gibbs No. 18 Chevrolet. Labonte took the pole away from four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who went out third and sat on top, uncontested, until Labonte's lap. Gordon will roll off second on Sunday.

Bobby Labonte.
Photo by Thomas Chemris.

The last time Labonte sat on the pole was in April 2001 in California, sixty-five races ago.

"It was a good two laps," said Labonte. "We made a couple of changes before qualifying. We've been good since we rolled off the truck. So the guys back at the shop did a great job getting it ready.

"We just had a great day, and a great little race car."

Qualifying was held under the lights after a four-hour delay for rain pushed back Busch and Winston Cup events Friday. After the track was dried and Busch and Winston Cup practices were held; Bud Pole qualifying was finally set under way, under calm and unusually cold conditions.

Penske drivers, who were strong in practice looked to threaten for the pole, but in the end only No. 12 Dodge driver Ryan Newman was able to place in the top ten. He will start third.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who also ran blistering laps during practice, is fourth in the DEI No. 8 Chevrolet.

"I think we still had the car that could have got the pole," said Earnhardt, Jr. "I was a little bit freer there than I was in practice, I just couldn't make the adjustments I needed to make fast enough to be able to run the line I needed to run. My entry into the corner was a little high to keep the car on the bottom, in the center and up off. If I would have adjusted my line a little bit we could have gotten the pole.

"Over the last two weeks we set ourselves back pretty far. So we're really digging, digging hard."

Kurt Busch rounds out the top five.

Failing to make the grid for Sunday's race were Brandon Ash and 2002 Busch Series Champion Greg Biffle.

Busch Series qualifying was rained out and owner points will set the starting grid. Ironically, that puts Stanton Barrett out front driving the Roush Racing No. 60 Ford this season of last year's series champion Greg Biffle.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Stanton Barrett , Brandon Ash