Labonte earns first pole of 2004 at Texas

Bobby Labonte piloting the No. 18 Gibbs Chevy has earned his first pole this season with a lap of 193.903 miles per hour. It is Labonte's second consecutive pole at Texas Motor Speedway. "These guys did a great job on the Interstate Batteries...

Bobby Labonte piloting the No. 18 Gibbs Chevy has earned his first pole this season with a lap of 193.903 miles per hour. It is Labonte's second consecutive pole at Texas Motor Speedway.

"These guys did a great job on the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet," Labonte said. "We had a great car all day long. This car has a good history; we were able to get a good lap in, the car really stuck. Just really excited about that, it was the hard work on my guys part for me to be able to run a good lap."

Bill Elliott making only his second start this season placed the No. 91 Dodge on the board with a lap of 193.729 mph, to secure the outside pole position. Elliott announced at the end of last season, that he would hang- up his pit suit for most of the regular season, and only run a handful of events. Those events have been limited by lack of sponsorship opportunity. Elliott's only other start this year was at Las Vegas, where he finished 20th.

"I'm just trying to keep up with Kasey," commented Elliott. "He's been running awful well lately, and I'm proud of what he's been doing lately. I think that shows how well Ray's organization came together at the end of last year. Jeremy (Mayfield) and myself either finished in the top five or top 10 every single race. He's got some good equipment and parts and pieces and some good people. That's what it takes to run this sport.

"I'm just proud to be here. This is only my second event this year, and I'm just proud to be as competitive as we are this weekend. We don't have anybody on the car, so if you want to throw in a couple of bucks I'm sure Ray will talk to you. I don't know how low he'd go. You look at the guys who run each and every week. Kasey has run well, and a lot of the other guys are coming on. That's just going to be part of the sport. Eventually it keeps weeding the older generation out. I still feel good physically from that side of it. I'm enjoying my role and basically just taking it a step at a time."

Elliott's teammate, and successor in the No. 9 Dodge, Kasey Kahne starts third. It is Kahne's fifth top-five start in seven events.

"We lost a little bit getting into turn one," said Kahne. "I couldn't get in quite as far as I wanted. It pushed a little bit right there, but other than that the car was awesome. Ray's got some pretty good engines right now, and it shows with Bill and myself being in the top three.

"It's been a pretty hectic week. We went to Martinsville and tested for two days. We flew out here on Wednesday for practice in the Busch cars, so I'm trying to put that (Bristol finish) behind me. At Darlington we ran 13th and had one of the best cars all day. At Bristol we were running second and as good as anybody all weekend, so it was disappointing not to finish up front or not even finish the race. At the same time we put it behind us and qualified third today, so we're looking good this week."

Greg Biffle is proving that after an up-and-down rookie season that the No. 16 Roush team has got it going on. Biffle rolls off fourth on Sunday; it is his sixth top-ten start this season.

"I had a better car than that and I just lost my speed down there in three and four," said Biffle. "The car needed to turn a little bit better. I'm happy with fourth, but I wanted to get the pole."

Joe Nemechek completes the top five racers.

Forty-seven drivers attempted to make the forty-three car field. Among those failing to qualify was Busch pole-sitter Kyle Busch attempting to make his second Cup start. Busch wrecked his primary car in morning practice, and the team could not adjust the back-up cr to run fast enough to make the show.

Point leader Matt Kenseth takes the green flag from the 26th spot. Kenseth leads the field by 21 markers over Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.

"They were decent laps," said Kenseth. "But we just didn't get the speed out of it. I probably could have done a better job of getting some more out of it. The track was real sticky and I probably didn't get everything."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne , Kyle Busch