Martinsville Speedway qualifying summary

Kurt Busch Races To SUBWAY 500 Pole At Martinsville Speedway MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 20, 2006) -- A former NEXTEL Cup champion and a driver on the comeback trail took the spotlight off the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup in qualifying Friday for ...

Kurt Busch Races To SUBWAY 500 Pole At Martinsville Speedway

MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 20, 2006) -- A former NEXTEL Cup champion and a driver on the comeback trail took the spotlight off the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup in qualifying Friday for Sunday's SUBWAY 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, captured the pole for Sunday's race while Ward Burton, attempting to make his first race in two years, qualified 35th.

Busch's lap of 19.408 seconds (97.568 mph) around the .526-mile oval edged out seven-time Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon by .038 seconds.

Busch and Burton set the tone for somewhat of an odd day of qualifying, with the top 10 a blend of Chase contenders and drivers well outside the Chase.

Jeff Burton, Ward's younger brother who is leading the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, struggled a bit and will start Sunday's race back in 28th.

Gordon, 10th in points, will start on the outside pole while fellow Chase contender Denny Hamlin qualified third.

Ryan Newman, suffering through a dismal season, was fourth fastest with Tony Stewart fifth.

Dave Blaney qualified sixth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., fifth in the points, and Jeff Green. Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers are Jimmie Johnson in ninth and Ken Schrader, 10th in the Wood Brothers Ford.

"It was a great lap, unexpected for me," said Busch after his sixth pole win of the season. "But this team has always qualified well at this track, especially with Rusty behind the wheel.

"I'm real proud of this team. Rusty always did well with the Miller Lite Dodge at Martinsville."

Busch's time of 19.408 seconds did not beat the track record of 19.306 seconds set by Tony Stewart last fall.

"Sometimes when you go slow you think you left some on the table," said Busch after his ninth career pole. "I thought there was some left, but maybe it was just right. Martinsville is the kind of track that you either love or hate. I've learned to do both."

Gordon is no stranger to the front row at Martinsville. He has five Martinsville poles and 19 top-10 starts at the short track.

"We're having fun here and trying to make the most of it," said Gordon. "The first lap on the clock I knew was a good one. I got through the corner decent, but I didn't feel like I was aggressive enough so I went out there a little bit harder on the second lap."

Tickets remain for Sunday's SUBWAY 500 and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or at the Martinsville Speedway ticket office.

-credit: Martinsville Speedway

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Jeff Green , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin , Dave Blaney