Earnhardt Jr. wipes out Michigan track record By Deb Williams BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 18, 2000) NASCAR Winston Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Dale Earnhardt Jr. blistered Michigan Speedway Friday, capturing the Bud Pole Award for ...
Earnhardt Jr. wipes out Michigan track record
By Deb Williams
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 18, 2000) NASCAR Winston Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Dale Earnhardt Jr. blistered Michigan Speedway Friday, capturing the Bud Pole Award for Sunday's Pepsi 400 presented by Meijer with a record lap of 191.149 mph. The qualifying lap that broke the old record of 189.883 mph set in June by Bobby Labonte made the 25-year-old driver the first stock car competitor to ever surpass 190 mph at the two-mile Michigan track.
"The track was 98 degrees in practice and about 113 or 118 when we went out to qualify," the Budweiser Chevrolet driver said after collecting his second pole this season. "I thought that was going to hurt us a little bit, but we actually went quicker.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to the hard work and the team and myself putting our heads together this afternoon just making the adjustments we did. You've got a short amount of time, especially in a rain delay situation like we had, to find speed out of a car once it's rolled out of the trailer.
"Some teams improve and some teams don't. We were lucky today that we made some correct changes and went in the right direction."
Earnhardt Jr.'s pole winning speed gave Chevrolet its sixth pole this season. Overall, Ford has 13 No. 1 starting positions and Pontiac possesses two. It was the 13th time this year a track qualifying record has been set, including both races at Michigan.
In addition to Earnhardt Jr., two other competitors broke the track record. Defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett, with a lap of 189.959 mph, was second quickest in the Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford while Rick Mast, in the Conseco Pontiac, claimed the third starting spot at 189.898 mph.
"It was a good run considering the (warm and sunny) conditions," Jarrett said after collecting his 12th top-10 starting position this year. "This is a very sensitive race track when it comes to the sun. Sunlight changed it and we got a little too loose."
Rain delayed NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying by 15 minutes, with time trials beginning at 3:45 p.m.
Mast was extremely happy with his third starting position, his first top-10 qualifying effort this year and his best since he won the pole at Rockingham in February 1998. It also was the first time the A.J. Foyt Racing team had used an engine this year built strictly in-house by David Evans' department, dubbed "Coyote Engines."
"It was a pretty uneventful lap," Mast said after producing his best qualifying effort ever at Michigan. "Our car was a top-5 or 6 car when we first unloaded speed-wise. We tried some different things chassis-wise and we kept getting off. We kept slowing down. So, finally, right towards the end of practice, we put it back the way we unloaded, tweaked on it a little bit and I said, `Well, we'll see what we've got guys.' And it was a good lap."
Rounding out the top-5, respectively, were Ricky Rudd, Texaco/Havoline Ford, 189.768 mph; and NASCAR Winston Cup point leader Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac, 189.648.
Jeremy Mayfield, who took a week and two races off after suffering a concussion at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a practice session crash, returned by grabbing the sixth starting position with a lap of 189.625 mph in his Mobil 1 Ford. Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau, Ward Burton and Rusty Wallace rounded out the top-10.
Those failing to make the field in first-round qualifying included Todd Bodine, who's substituting for the injured Terry Labonte; seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt; John Andretti; Bobby Hamilton; the pole winner's older half-brother Kerry Earnhardt; three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip and Kyle Petty.
Bud Second-Round Qualifying to set he 43-car field begins at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, following a one-hour practice session from 9-10 a.m.