Homestead: Pole goes to Busch

Kurt Busch on the pole For the Ford 400. MIAMI, Fla., (Nov. 15, 2002) -- Kurt Busch saved the best for last as he captured his first Bud Pole Award of this season on Friday during NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying for the Sunday's Ford 400. Busch,...

Kurt Busch on the pole For the Ford 400.

MIAMI, Fla., (Nov. 15, 2002) -- Kurt Busch saved the best for last as he captured his first Bud Pole Award of this season on Friday during NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying for the Sunday's Ford 400.

Busch, driving the No. 97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Ford for Roush Racing, turned a fast of 154.365 mph around the 1.5-mile South Florida facility to capture the Bud Pole for Sunday's Ford 400 and qualify for next year's Budweiser Shootout At Daytona.

It's the second career Bud Pole for Busch, who earned his first Bud Pole at Darlington in September 2001, 46 races ago.

"It feels good to finally beat this character to my left (Ryan Newman)," Busch said. "He's beaten us a few times this year. Our Fords have been pretty good when it comes to qualifying on Fridays and we came here to Homestead-Miami and tested two or three weeks ago. We performed some tests that would benefit us for qualifying. Obviously, we're focused on what Sunday has within it and where we're at in the points situation, Sunday is way more important but this is a great start. To know that we're headed in the right direction, it just feels great."

Rounding out the top five was Dale Earnhardt Jr. (153.881), Jimmy Spencer (152.862), Joe Nemechek (152.780) and Greg Biffle (152.607). The top Raybestos Rookie of the Year qualifer was Newman, who took the 15th position with a speed of 152.044.

"I'm real proud of this team," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Tony (Eury) Sr. and Tony Jr. did a great job in practice today to get the car dialed in. That's why the car runs so good. There's a good handle on the car. It's the same car we ran last week (in Phoenix) and we felt so good about it that we brought it here. Hopefully it'll turn out and get us a win."

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader, qualified sixth with a lap of 152.547 mph.

"That wasn't the prettiest lap out here today, but, we had a good lap," Stewart said. "We've got a really good car. We're normally 'bad to the bone' on Sunday here. Our car is really, really good in race trim, so I'm pretty excited about Sunday now."

If Stewart finishes 22nd or better in Sunday's Ford 400, he will become the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion regardless of the performance of any other driver. He can also secure the championship if he finishes 24th or better and lead one lap or 25th or better and lead the most laps.

The surprise of qualifying came from four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who had to take a provisional for the first time in his career. Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet, posted a speed of 150.079 mph in qualifying.

Tickets for the Ford Championship Weekend are available by calling the Homestead-Miami Speedway ticket office at (305) 230-RACE.

-dis-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman