BUSCH: Collisions with wall extend Chicagoland qualifying

Joliet, Ill. - In a qualifying period marred by two accidents, Todd Bodine clinched the Bud Pole position for tomorrow's NASCAR Busch Series Tropicana Twister 300 presented by Sam's Club here at Chicagoland Speedway. Bodine turned in a best speed...

Joliet, Ill. - In a qualifying period marred by two accidents, Todd Bodine clinched the Bud Pole position for tomorrow's NASCAR Busch Series Tropicana Twister 300 presented by Sam's Club here at Chicagoland Speedway. Bodine turned in a best speed of 178.772 mph in his #92 Excedrin Chevrolet and will line up alongside Scott Riggs, the circuit's leading rookie, who was .08 seconds slower than Bodine's lap time of 30.206 seconds.

Bodine holds the Winston Cup qualifying record at Chicago during last year's Tropicana 400. He finished 14th in that race. Jimmie Johnson notched a victory in last season's Busch race here with the same #92 Excedrin team that Bodine is driving for.

"It was a pretty good run," Bodine said. "I really didn't think it was going to hold up, but fortunately we were able to hold off Riggs and Burton. I enjoy 1.5 mile tracks, momentum tracks and this place is definitely a momentum track." Bodine led the Busch pack in Happy Hour practice, as well.

There was a lengthy delay in qualifying after Christian Elder's run was interrupted when the right front of his car hit the wall hard between Turns Three and Four. His preliminary diagnosis was a concussion and a possible fractured right clavicle. He was quickly airlifted by helicopter to St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields where he received confirmation of the fractured clavicle and concussion. A CT scan was given on his head and neck and results were negative. He is in stable condition and will spend the night for observation. Elder was the 21st car to qualify and was awarded the third provisional starting spot for Saturday's race.

Twelve cars later, rookie Dan Pardus spun and hit the wall hard with the right rear of the car. The car slid down onto the [flat part] of the track and caught fire as Pardus struggled for a few moments to get out of the car before he was finally able to climb out, when he was quickly assisted by track fire and safety crews. "I went down into three there," Pardus said, "and it wiggled in the center and it was all I could do to hold on it and backed her into the wall. That's the first time that I've ever really had a lot of fire in the car and that did kind of scare me a little bit because when I went backwards I felt some heat." After the wreck, he was seen and released by the track's infield care center. Winston Cup qualifying started about 45 minutes late as a result of the accidents during the Busch event.

Many drivers commented on the difficulty of passing on this racetrack because the concrete is only two years old. Satisfied with his outside pole position, Scott Riggs said: "I think track position is going to be critical. It's real hard to pass here."

Third qualifier Jeff Burton agreed. "I think the person that can keep the car on the bottom of the racetrack will be the one who can stay out front," he said.

Joe Nemechek qualified a disappointing 13th with his 177.322 effort after recording the fastest time in Winston Cup practice of 183.256 earlier in the afternoon. Nemechek qualified 10th for Sunday's Winston Cup race. He finished 4th in the 2001 race at Chicagoland Speedway.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Todd Bodine , Joe Nemechek , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Riggs , Christian Elder