Stewart sets record in Brickyard 400 pole run

INDIANAPOLIS (August 3, 2002) - Tony Stewart earned the pole position for the ninth annual Brickyard 400 after breaking Brett Bodine's two-year old track record. Stewart shaved over a half second from Bodine's time, recording a lap at 49.191...

INDIANAPOLIS (August 3, 2002) - Tony Stewart earned the pole position for the ninth annual Brickyard 400 after breaking Brett Bodine's two-year old track record. Stewart shaved over a half second from Bodine's time, recording a lap at 49.191 seconds and 182.960 mph.

"I knew it was a good lap, I just didn't know how good," said Stewart after claiming his sixth career pole.

Stewart, who will become the first driver to start from the pole in the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, said, "I could care less about poles. I want my name on a brick, and I want my name on a Borg-Warner Trophy, and you guys can take all the poles and do whatever in the heck you want to do with them."

The outspoken Indiana native had a bit of luck on his side today as temperatures quickly rose after the start of qualifying. As temperatures rose, times dropped, giving the first qualifiers an advantage. The top four qualifying speeds were recorded during the first 30 minutes of the two and a half hour session.

"The hardest thing about this racetrack is that you can make big gains or little gains, and nobody really knew what was going to happen this morning, as compared to yesterday afternoon when the track was really hot and slippery. The conditions are definitely better today than what they were yesterday."

Stewart said he never had any luck when drawing his qualifying pill so he's assigned that duty to someone else. "They earned their keep this week," he said.

NASCAR Winston Cup's most recent winner, Bill Elliott wall start second. Elliott, the fourth driver in the qualifying line, was the only other driver to run a lap at 182 mph. Two-tenths of a second slower than Stewart, Elliott stopped the clocks at 49.421 seconds for an average speed of 182.109 mph.

"That wasn't a bad lap," said Elliott. "I felt like we got everything we could out of it. It's good to be up front because track position at Indy is very important."

Pleased with his performance, Elliott added, "We've got four poles to our credit. I'm kind of on pole, but I'm just on the wrong side of it."

Elliott also acknowledged the changing track conditions. "The draw was an important part of where we ended up today. With the swing in track conditions as much as there is, it's hard to make it an equal place."

One-tenth of a second behind Elliott was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will start third. "The track didn't have any laps on it this morning and it was a little green, but the early draw really helped us out. Me and Michael (Waltrip) had about the same car."

Waltrip, who qualified two hours into the session, qualified 14th, four-tenths of a second slower than his teammate.

After recording a best lap of 179.551 in Friday morning's practice session, Robby Gordon was impressed by his qualifying speed of 181.543 mph.

"I thought we just made the pole," said Robby Gordon, the fourth fastest qualifier. "The track was fast this morning because it was cool."

Gordon will race with an aluminun insert in his left shoe after fracturing his heel in a motorcycle accident last week at Pocono.

Ryan Newman, next to last in the qualifying line, started his run at 12:28 p.m., when conditions were at their worst. "It was in the heat of the day," said Newman when asked about his run, "but I think was pretty hot from the time the first green flag dropped all the way through. It probably made a little bit of a difference, but, overall, the run was pretty good.

"I got through (turns) one and two pretty good, but I overcooked turn three a little bit just trying to push too hard. That cost us a little bit, but to still get a top-five run out of it, that's not bad at all."

Newman's qualifying speed was 181.287 mph while his teammate Rusty Wallace could only manage 178.405 mph.

"I was way too loose," said Wallace, who will start 35th. "When I went into the corner the back end was hanging out and I just didn't get it near tight enough. We'll have to start way back, so we'll see what happens."

Current points leader Sterling Marlin will start eighth, just ahead of Mark Martin, who currently holds down second place in the championship standings.

Notes from the Ninth Annual Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that the Coors Brewing Company would extend their primary sponsorship of Sterling Marlin's No. 40 Dodge Intrepid R/T. The three-year deal announced today continues a relationship started in 1983 with car owner Harry Melling and driver Bill Elliott.

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Robby Gordon was injured in a motorcycle accident last week while jumping hills at Traxx Motorsports Park at Jack Frost Ski Resort in the Poconos. Gordon was thought to have sprained both ankles when his bike landed incorrectly on the top of a hill. Upon further evaluation at Carolinas Medical Center on Monday, Gordon was found to have suffered a fractured left heel. The team canceled a test at Watkins Glen but Gordon will drive in this weekend's Brickyard 400.

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Ryan Newman was the Raybestos Rookie of the race at Pocono last week, the second consecutive race where he earned the honor. Newman trails Jimmie Johnson in rookie standings by 13 points (285-272).

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Tony Glover was awarded the Fifth Annual Brickyard 400 "True Grit" Award. Glover is the team manager of Chip Ganassi/Felix Sabates NASCAR Winston Cup team. C & R Racing, Inc. and Visteon Climate Control Systems sponsor the $10,000 award.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Brett Bodine , Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Ryan Newman , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing