Rusty Wallace paces Happy Hour at Martinsville

Rusty Wallace smells a season sweep. With his second place qualifying effort, and fastest lap in Cup series "happy hour", he becomes the lead candidate to grace victory lane on Sunday. Wallace's lap of 95.854 mph led the field by 0.037 ...

Rusty Wallace smells a season sweep. With his second place qualifying effort, and fastest lap in Cup series "happy hour", he becomes the lead candidate to grace victory lane on Sunday.

Wallace's lap of 95.854 mph led the field by 0.037 seconds.

"I think the right rear tires are going to give up," said Wallace of his expectations of the race Sunday. "I think the track is going to go loose. That's what I think. It's been kinda hooked up they tell me and I was running more right rear spring than I was running in the first race. I do think it'll go loose. I'm not certain.

"I would like to see the truck race get done, lay a little rubber down tonight and let's get our practice done tomorrow with all 40 cars on the racetrack and I think the second session is going to be real key. I think there will be more rubber down yet. I think when it's all done we'll leave with a little different outlook. I think there are a lot of unknowns right now. The tires are good. I liked them the first race. Something's got to give. They're going to wear. I just don't know which one is going to wear the worst. I think it's going to be the right rear."

Kasey Kahne was second fastest with a lap of 95.675 mph. It's a huge improvement for the No. 9 Dodge team who qualified 38th.

"We made some changes," said Kahne. "I think we finally found something we can use. I am real happy with the car."

Bobby Labonte, Ward Burton and Ricky Rudd complete the top five quickest cars.

Pole sitter Ryan Newman was only eighth laying down a lap of 95.065 mph. Newman is ninth in Chase points, 271 markers short of the leader.

"Without a doubt, we're looking for places to make up major ground because we need that right now," said Newman. "Just one step at a time. The points the last five races haven't gone the way we wanted them to with the exception of Dover, but we're not out of the championship by any means.

"We're not in a good position, but we'll just keep our nose to the grindstone, stay focused and do our best job.

Series point leader Kurt Busch was 15th on the grid with a lap of 94.941 mph. He leads Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 24 points coming into Martinsville and hopes that he can carry that lead into Atlanta as we set-up for one of the most unpredictable races of the season.

"This one is definitely a wild card and is as large as Talladega," Busch said. "The way that this race plays out most of the time is you get an entire sequence of guys that pit within 50 laps and then the rest of the field stays out later until about lap 120 to pit, so it seems you're always behind the eight-ball when you're a conservative team that has to make sure that you put on four tires each time and to make sure that you have to top the fuel off each time.

"So it just never feels like you're gaining any kind of track position until the end of the race and you hope that the end of the race plays out in your favor."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne