Darlington Qualifying Story

Martin leads Roush front row at Darlington Steve Waid - NASCAR Winston Cup Scene DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 20, 1998) Mark Martin led a one-two punch for Roush Racing in qualifying for the TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway by ...

Martin leads Roush front row at Darlington Steve Waid - NASCAR Winston Cup Scene

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 20, 1998) Mark Martin led a one-two punch for Roush Racing in qualifying for the TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway by winning the Bud Pole with a speed of 168.665 mph in the Valvoline Ford.

Martin's teammate, Jeff Burton, accompanied him on the front row with a speed of 168.284 mph in the Exide Batteries Ford.

For Martin, it was his first Bud Pole of the year and the first of his career at Darlington, where he won the Southern 500 in 1993. The Arkansas native has already won a race this year, at Las Vegas.

To say that for Martin claiming the top spot was a surprise might be an understatement.

"We were off in practice and we didn't make any adjustments," Martin said. "I didn't think it was a great lap. In fact, you could have convinced me we were headed for the

backstretch pits for the race.

"I don't know how I beat Jeff for the pole. Usually you know when it's fast. I had no idea it was that good. I just don't know what to say. I'm confused."

Burton, without a Bud Pole Award this season, was the 32nd of 49 drivers who attempted to qualify on the 1.366-mile track and was in the No. 1 position until Martin, the 39th driver on the track, made his one-lap run.

The two Roush drivers led a Ford assault on the top five starting positions. Dale Jarrett, the winner of last year's race, took the third starting position with a speed of 168.186 mph in the Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford. The fourth spot went to veteran Dick Trickle at 168.163 mph in the Heilig-Myers Ford while Kenny Irwin, Jarrett's rookie teammate at Robert Yates Racing, took the fifth spot at 168.140 mph in the Texaco/Havoline Ford.

Bobby Labonte broke Ford's stranglehold on qualifying by moving into the sixth position with a speed of 168.129 mph in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac. The seventh position went to Michael Waltrip, the last driver to qualify, also at 168.129 mph in the Citgo Ford.

Rounding out the top 10 were Sterling Marlin, eighth at 168.071 mph in the Coor's Light Chevrolet, Ward Burton, eighth at 167.853 mph in the MBNA America Pontiac and rookie Kevin LePage, who provided the day's biggest surprise by qualifying 10th at 167.710 mph in the Little Joe's Auto Chevrolet.

Of the top 10 qualifiers, only Martin, Jarrett and Marlin have ever won a race at Darlington.

In fact, of the top 20 qualifiers, only one other competitor, Ricky Rudd, has won at Darlington. Filling out positions 11-20 were, in order, Geoff Bodine, Greg Sacks, David Green, Rusty Wallace, Rick Mast, John Andretti, Robert Pressley, Rudd, Mike Skinner and Ted Musgrave.

The list of the top 25 qualifiers admitted into the field in the first round was completed by Johnny Benson, Brett Bodine, Randy LaJoie (driving the Budweiser Chevrolet in place of the injured Ricky Craven), Jeff Gordon and Jerry Nadeau.

A second round of qualifying is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. EST, on Saturday, March 21. Among those who will either requalify or elect to stand on their first-round speeds are Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Ernie Irvan.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Sterling Marlin , Jerry Nadeau , Robert Pressley , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , David Green , Rick Mast , Robert Yates , Greg Sacks , Mark Martin
Teams Yates Racing