Talladega qualifying report

Mayfield wins first Busch Pole in Sears DieHard 500 Qualifying TALLADEGA, Ala. (July 26) -- Jeremy Mayfield made the biggest giant step of his career Thursday on Dixie Pole Day when he won the Busch Pole Award for Sunday's Sears DieHard...

Mayfield wins first Busch Pole in Sears DieHard 500 Qualifying

TALLADEGA, Ala. (July 26) -- Jeremy Mayfield made the biggest giant step of his career Thursday on Dixie Pole Day when he won the Busch Pole Award for Sunday's Sears DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway with a blistering one-lap run. Mayfield captured his first pole in the 66th try of his NASCAR Winston Cup career when he turned a lap of the 2.66-mile "World's Fastest Speedway" in 49.779 seconds, an average speed of 192.370 mph in his RCA Ford. By winning the pole Mayfield knocked defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon into the second starting spot. Gordon took the DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet onto the speedway as the second of 43 cars to attempt to qualify and ran 50.027, 191.417. Dale Jarrett (191.088) was the only driver to even approach Gordon's speed before Mayfield made his highly-taped effort. When his car overheated on its second lap Mayfield shut it off rather than risk damaging the engine the team intends to use in the DieHard 500. "We made a couple gambles," an ecstatic Mayfield said. "Tape is speed, here, so we taped-off the grill more than we normally do. We had been qualifying third, fourth, so we decided to bring a new car here. It all paid off! "I'm in awe right now -- I'm amazed. I don't know how to act... I've won poles and races on the short tracks and in ARCA (Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar Series), but usually the poles I won you just drove the car back to the garage and the guys congratulated you." Dale Earnhardt (190.806) and Lake Speed (190.522) rounded-out the top five qualifiers. NASCAR Winston Cup point leader Terry Labonte was notable by his absence in the top 25. Labonte qualified 29th at 188.330 mph. Mayfield becomes the 12th qualifier for the Busch Clash of '97 -- set for Feb. 9 during Speedweeks '97 at Daytona International Speedway -- with his pole. Mayfield's effort was only the second Busch Pole for Cale Yarborough Motorsports in its 10 years of existence. Dick Trickle won the first in 1990. "You know how Cale is -- he'll probably fly up in the morning," said Mayfield. "Cale wasn't planning to fly over until Sunday morning...I'm sure he'll have something to say about this. "I'm real excited to be in the Busch Clash. All I've ever been able to do is stand up on the truck and watch it, and as a driver that's the last thing you want to do." SEARS DIEHARD 500 NOTES: STERLING MARLIN will try on Sunday to become only the second driver to win three straight NASCAR Winston Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway. Buddy Baker won both Talladega Cup races in 1975 and won the '76 Winston Select 500. Baker led the '76 DieHard 500 handily driving for car owner Bud Moore, but ran out of gas with less than 20 laps remaining while trying for the unprecedented four-straight sweep. Baker finished second to Dave Marcis in that race. DALE EARNHARDT has an opportunity to eclipse another of Buddy Baker's records in Sunday's Sears DieHard 500. Baker is the all- time lap leader in NASCAR Winston Cup races at the "World's Fastest Speedway." Baker led 1,099 laps in his career while Earnhardt, who is already the career victories leader in all Talladega events with 10, has led 1,090. BUDDY BAKER holds another Talladega standard. He led 135 of 188 laps in the 1976 Winston Select 500. Dale Earnhardt led 134 of 188 laps in the '90 Sears DieHard 500. THE TOTAL MARGIN of victory in the last 10 Sears DieHard 500s is an incredible 1.495 seconds. TICKETS for the Sears DieHard 500 are available for $35-95. Tickets may be purchased at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office (205-362-9064) Saturday and at the gates Sunday. Credit cards will not be accepted at the gates.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield , Dick Trickle , Dave Marcis , Buddy Baker , Cale Yarborough