Bobby Labonte on Michigan pole

Bobby Labonte on Michigan pole

Bobby Labonte scored his 25th career Bud pole, and fourth pole of this season by posting a lap of 190.240 mph. It is Labonte's second one at MIS this season, and gives him the most front-row starts this year. Only Ryan Newman has more, with five...

Bobby Labonte scored his 25th career Bud pole, and fourth pole of this season by posting a lap of 190.240 mph. It is Labonte's second one at MIS this season, and gives him the most front-row starts this year. Only Ryan Newman has more, with five to his credit.

Bobby Labonte.
Photo by Greg Gage.
"I just like coming here," said Labonte. "You can race from the white wall to the white line here. The track is like 100 yards wide and it gives the driver a lot of options where you can run."

"The rain gave the track a little more grip early on. After that, it may have given up some grip as the track got hotter."

Newman was second in the No. 12 Penske Dodge Intrepid with a lap of 189.928 mph. It is Newman's 12th top-three start of the year.

"It had a lot of grip in it," Newman said. "That sun was real good to us. It just kept cooking (the track). I left a little on the table through turns three and four."

Last week's winner Robby Gordon motors the No. 31 RCR Chevy to the green flag from third.

"It was pretty good for us," said Gordon. "The track started to heat up and it gained about 10 degrees from the time Jimmy Spencer (first qualifier) went out to when we went out. We didn't know if the track was going to be fast enough or not, but we saw Ryan [Newman] do that lap and we were able to come back and get close."

Kevin LePage made a surprise fourth place run in the No. 57 CLR Ford, in only his third attempt at a Winston Cup race this season. Terry Labonte rounds out the top five.

A brief summer shower was the only interruption NASCAR encountered during Friday's schedule of events, as the blackout that affected 50 million people across a 9,300 square mile radius of the Northeast and Midwest, affected the greater Detroit metro area (one hour to the west) but did not hamper on-track activities.

The rainstorm that hit the Brooklyn area jus before 3 PM did delay qualifying about two hours, and seemed to give the early racers an advantage; six of the top-ten starters were among the first group of cars to post speeds. The top ten was a collection of surprise contenders, with Jason Leffler landing sixth, followed by Christian Fittipaldi, Jeff Burton, Dave Blaney and Jimmy Spencer.

"There's no doubt that the track was a lot quicker than what we ran this morning," said Fittipaldi, who earned his best starting spot this season. "This morning we had a lot of rubber from the Busch car, plus it was pretty hot. We were pushing a good amount in three and four. The car had a lot more grip in qualifying. The balance was better. We came back with a different car than we ran here last time. I had more time in the seat, and it's the first track I'm coming back to the second time. When you add up all those factors, maybe they make a little difference. I'm pretty happy. I ran the whole race in June, and you're learning all the time what happens to the car during the race, and I think that's going to make a big difference for us on Sunday."

Point leader Matt Kenseth will have to patiently make his way to the front of the pack. The No. 17 Roush Ford starts 33rd.

"We've started farther back than that," Kenseth said. "It's just a starting position and not a finishing position, we'll just have good pit stops and, hopefully, have a good handling car that can get to the front on Sunday."

Second place challenger in the championship race, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fared a little better in time trials; the Budweiser Chevy takes the flag from 19th.

"It just got loose," Earnhardt said. "The car was too loose (and) I about crashed on the first lap, so I took it careful so I didn't crash again."

Forty-four cars attempted to qualify for the forty-three-car field; failing to qualify was Stacy Compton in the No. 4 Morgan-McClure Pontiac.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jason Leffler , Jimmy Spencer , Robby Gordon , Ryan Newman , Stacy Compton , Dave Blaney