Vickers earns first career pole at Richmond

Vickers earns first career pole at Richmond

Rookie Brian Vickers' lap of 129.983 mph bested the field, earning Vickers his first career Budweiser pole. While he set the fast time, Vickers was concerned that his time would not hold up, as track conditions were slick as the cars broke in the...

Rookie Brian Vickers' lap of 129.983 mph bested the field, earning Vickers his first career Budweiser pole. While he set the fast time, Vickers was concerned that his time would not hold up, as track conditions were slick as the cars broke in the newly repaved surface.

Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers.
Photo by Daytona International Speedway.
"The track was really slick," said Vickers. "It's tough, this place to find the edge. It's so easy to under draft, and be able to find that edge. We knew we had to get a good smooth, solid lap."

"Finally!" was the overwhelming emotion in the No. 25 Hendrick Chevy pit. The team has been so close to poles all season, losing them at the last minute.

Vickers hot lap broke the track record set by Ward Burton in 2002, in fact the first 30 qualifiers all busted Burton's record of 127.389 mph.

"Everyone's said be patient," said Vickers. "We've been close so many times. But it was

just a matter of time before we had a pole but we were getting pretty anxious to get one."

Ryan Newman went out first and was also concerned that his time would not hold up, but in the end it was good enough to garner No. 12 Dodge the outside pole. It is Newman's eighth top ten start of the season.

"Going out first certainly wasn't an advantage," said Newman, who ran a 129.970 mph. "The track really lost its grip. The sun cooked the oil out of it for an hour or an hour and a half. It was a good effort. We unloaded quickly, and we kept getting faster as the track got quicker."

Jeff Green posted only his second top-five effort of the season, with third.

"It's great to finally feel like our program is coming together," said Green. "Things really seem to have fallen in place over the last few weeks."

NEXTEL Cup series point leader, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. charted a lap of 129.639 mph for fourth. Earnhardt now has a series-high nine top ten starts in 2004.

"I was just trying to be real cautious with the track being as slick as it is," commented Earnhardt. "The car was a little but tight in the middle of each corner and that's kind of how it was in practice."

Jimmie Johnson's lap of 129.565 mph completes the top five starters.

"The track slowed down quite a bit from practice and everybody is wondering why," said Johnson. "The first lap I put in a smooth one. And then the next corner in Turns 1 and 2, I tried to get all I could and nailed it."

Ricky Craven wrecked his primary car during the second lap of his time- trial effort. While his first lap was good enough for a 21rst place start, he will have to use a back-up car and move to the rear of the field.

"Just a product of me going after it," said Craven. "I thought we had a shot, we had a wiggle in turn three, and I just went after it."

Rookie Kasey Kahne also crashed his car during qualifying, spinning the No. 9 Dodge in turn 4. Kahne sustained heavy rear end damage, and will have to revert to a back-up car. He takes the green flag from 39th.

Forty-five cars attempted to make the forty-three car field. Failing to make the show were Stanton Barrett and Kirk Shelmerdine.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Jeff Green , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Craven , Kirk Shelmerdine , Kasey Kahne , Stanton Barrett , Brian Vickers