Daytona II: Qualifying report

Park leads RCR charge during Kraft/Nabisco Qualifying Night. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (July 3, 2003) -- Steve Park captured his second pole of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season on Thursday, and along with teammate Kevin Harvick, will round...

Park leads RCR charge during Kraft/Nabisco Qualifying Night.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (July 3, 2003) -- Steve Park captured his second pole of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season on Thursday, and along with teammate Kevin Harvick, will round out a Richard Childress Racing front row for Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Park, who earned his first pole at the "World Center of Racing" during Thursday's Kraft/Nabisco Qualifying Night, set the pace in the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet with a speed of 184.752 mph and scored his fourth career pole.

"Sitting at the pole at Daytona is like a dream come true," Park said. "Being a small boy growing up in a racing family, you always want to win the Daytona 500 and sit on a pole at Daytona. We accomplished one of the goals."

Said Childress: "The fab shop has really done a great job, the engine shop has done a lot of extra work, and the teams, both of these teams, have really worked hard."

Jeff Gordon, Sterling Marlin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified third, fourth, and fifth respectively. Four of the top-five qualifiers starting the Pepsi 400 on Saturday will be driving Chevrolet Monte Carlos.

Gordon has won the Pepsi 400 twice, while Marlin and Earnhardt, Jr. have one win each in Daytona's mid-summer classic.

"We were pretty satisfied with that," Gordon said. "I was pretty shocked that we held onto the top spot as long as we did. We knew that the Childress cars would be a factor. Going into the day, we thought we'd be a little bit better than we were at Talladega. We were fourth at Talladega and we came out of here third, so we're pretty happy."

Jamie McMurray was the top qualifying rookie as he took his No. 42 Havoline/Terminator 3 Dodge to an eighth starting position. McMurray's only previous Winston Cup start at the historic track came in this year's Daytona 500 where he finished 31st.

"I thought we'd run quite a bit better than that, but everybody is slowing down," McMurray said. "This is the car (teammate) Casey (Mears) wrecked in practice at the Daytona 500. The guys went back and put a body on it and did a real good job. This is our best superspeedway car, so we're excited about getting in the race and seeing what we can do."

In qualifying for the Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo NASCAR Busch Series race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. saved the best as he captured the pole in his No. 8 Chance 2 Chevrolet with a speed of 186.308 mph.

This will be Earnhardt, Jr.'s third Busch Series start of the season. He picked up victories in the Koolerz 300 in February at Daytona and the Aaron's 312 in April at Talladega.

"I didn't anticipate getting the pole," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It got a little bit hotter and we generally, with our car this year in the Busch Series, haven't picked up as most guys do."

Earnhardt, Jr. was the final car to complete his qualifying run, bumping Kasey Kahne for the pole position.

"I didn't necessarily expect it, but I knew he'd put up a good lap," Kahne said. "It's too bad he was last and we went out so early and had to wait so long, but it was close."

Tickets for the Pepsi 400 weekend events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Steve Park , Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne
Teams Richard Childress Racing