MARTIN EYES POLE AFTER POSTING FASTEST PRACTICE SPEED INDIANAPOLIS, July 29, 1998 - Mark Martin, chasing the top spot in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings, led the speed chart with a lap of 175.816 mph Wednesday to become the...
MARTIN EYES POLE AFTER POSTING FASTEST PRACTICE SPEED
INDIANAPOLIS, July 29, 1998 - Mark Martin, chasing the top spot in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings, led the speed chart with a lap of 175.816 mph Wednesday to become the favorite to win the pole for the Brickyard 400.
Martin's best lap in the Valvoline Ford came just 33 minutes before the end of the practice session, which was shortened by two hours and five minutes due to rain. Fifty-one cars turned laps on the 2.5-mile oval during the first practice for the fifth annual Brickyard 400.
Qualifying for the Bud Pole starts at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) Thursday. Martin's best career start for this event was second in 1996.
1996 Brickyard 400 winner Dale Jarrett was second-fastest Wednesday at 175.778 in the Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford. Ricky Craven was third at 175.730 in the Budweiser/Quaker State/Pedigree/GMAC Chevrolet.
Defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon was eighth at 175.107 in the DuPont/Quaker State/Pepsi/GMAC Chevrolet. 1994 Brickyard 400 winner Gordon leads second-place Martin by 62 points in the standings.
"It went pretty good," Gordon said. "I wanted to shake the car down and get some laps down. Now we'll put the qualifying engine in and get more serious tomorrow."
Defending Brickyard 400 champion Ricky Rudd was seventh at 175.111 in the Tide/Whirlpool Ford.
"Basically we are chasing the track," Rudd said. "We're right in there for the pole. We have a little left, but probably so do the guys in front of us."
Practice also started for the inaugural True Value Firebird International Race of Champions event at the Speedway. The 40-lap IROC race - the season finale for the all-star series -- starts at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Martin leads the point standings and will try to win his fourth IROC title in the last five years.
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