DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Jarrett filled his only void of last season Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Jarrett, who won the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship, captured his first pole position since September of 1998 when he...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Jarrett filled his only void of last season Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Jarrett, who won the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship, captured his first pole position since September of 1998 when he earned the No. 1 starting position for the Daytona 500. The driver of Robert Yates' No. 88 Ford Taurus was the only driver to record a lap faster than 191 mph. Jarrett averaged 191.091 mph around the 2.5-mile track. It marks the second time in his career that the North Carolina driver has won the pole for the Winston Cup Series season opener. Jarrett started on the pole in 1995.
Ricky Rudd made it an all-Yates front row with a lap of 190.394 mph. Rudd, who owned his own team the last six seasons, replaced Kenny Irwin in Yates' legendary No. 28 Taurus during the off season. "It's nice to get the pole out of the way," said Jarrett, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. "We didn't concern ourselves last year that we didn't have a pole, but every week we went out there with winning the pole in mind. It's just much easier racing from the front. "Winning the pole for the Daytona 500 is different from any other pole. You benefit more from this pole. It gives the guys on the team immediate results for working so hard during the off season. "Ricky and I are just the fortunate ones to get to sit in these cars."
Only the front row positions were determined Saturday. The remainder of the field will be set after Thursday's Gatorade 125-mile qualifying races.
"I have been to the 500 before worried about making the race," said Rudd. "It never failed, the later we got in the week the more sleepless nights I would have. "This really takes the pressure off knowing that your position is secured. Now we can get out there Monday and start working on our race setup."
Bill Elliott was third fastest Saturday, and the only other driver to top the 190-mph barrier. Mike Skinner was fourth fastest, and the only Chevrolet driver to qualify in the top 15.
Mark Martin, Ward Burton, Rusty Wallace and John Andretti were fifth through eighth fastest, while rookies Scott Pruett and Dave Blaney rounded out the top 10. Speedweeks action continues Sunday at Daytona International Speedway with the Bud Shootout Qualifier and the Bud Shootout for last season's top qualifiers. The ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series opens its season Sunday with the Pro2Call 200. Tickets still remain for Sunday's activities and can be purchased at the gate.