BUSCH: Watkins Glen qualifying report

By Patrick Jennings - Motorsport.com Pruett Grabs First Busch Series Pole as Road Racers Claim Top-Four Starting Spots Watkins Glen, NY - Road racing veteran Scott Pruett scored his first career NASCAR Busch Series pole Saturday afternoon...

By Patrick Jennings - Motorsport.com

Pruett Grabs First Busch Series Pole as Road Racers Claim Top-Four Starting Spots

Watkins Glen, NY - Road racing veteran Scott Pruett scored his first career NASCAR Busch Series pole Saturday afternoon for the GNC Live Well 200 at Watkins Glen International as professional road racer swept the top-four positions on the grid. Pruett, fresh off a GTS class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Corvette C5-R, set the fastest time in qualifying despite only one day of testing in the car. In fact, it's been seven years since Pruett last competed at the Glen in 1994.

"It's great to be back," Pruett stated. "We came up here with Kevin LePage, who owns the team . . . and he said, 'Would you like to come to Watkins [Glen] and do this [the Busch Series race]?' And I said, 'Yeah. Sure. Let's see what we can make out of this.' He [Le Page] took one of his short track cars and brought it up here and we did one day of testing right after Le Mans."

"Seven years is a long time though," explained Pruett as he recounted his last trip to Watkins Glen in an SCCA Trans-Am car. "The track has changed in different ways. They've worked on the track a lot, and they've made it a lot safer. It was even difficult coming here Ron [Fellows] and I both flew from France to here and did one day of testing, literally. It was pretty difficult even then to get up to speed after driving something like a Trans-Am car [the GTS Corvette]."

Pruett's record-setting qualifying attempt, however, was not exactly a walk-in-the-park for him. "[T]oday . . . we actually broke a header leaving the pit road. And I called in and said, 'Guys, something is wrong, I'm only going to be able to make one lap. I'll try to make it a good one.' So we made it one lap and I shut it off and it was good enough to hang on."

Two-time race winner Ron Fellows will line-up right next to Pruett tomorrow afternoon. "It's great to see Scott [Pruett] get the pole, sort of," Fellows remarked. "It was good, we got three cracks at it and it was quite slick and just weren't able to turn the same type of lap as we did this morning. But Scott did and so did Robby [Gordon]. It was a little greasier than we anticipated but hey, we did the best we could." Fellows won the race from the pole last year.

Although Pruett out-qualified the two-time pole-sitter, he made it clear that he feels as if he will have his work cut out for him tomorrow afternoon. "I'm really at a disadvantage right now because Ron ran the race last year and he knows how the race is going to unfold." The mercurial Robby Gordon qualified third while the versatile Boris Said will start from the fourth position.

Kevin Harvick, the 2001 Busch Series points leader, qualified sixth on a day that will also see him compete in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona later Saturday evening.

In a sense, Pruett's pole helps to erase some of the bitter feelings that still linger after his release from Cal Well's Winston Cup team in the middle of last season. "A lot of things, unfortunately, turned bad after last season," Pruett explained. "There's more of that to avenge than just the race here. I was pretty disappointed over Cal's decision to make change in drivers. He felt it was his best decision and it was something that he had to do. I disagreed with it. I thought we were would have been fine. Coming here and running good in a Busch car and running in a cup car I think that will give us an opportunity to prove something that I haven't to prove. When we ran good [sic] in Cup, we hauled ass. But we also had those races we missed. I think that's just racing. New driver, new team, new everything. Coming here getting the pole and running well . . . is great."

Look for Pruett to attempt to erase some of his disappointment tomorrow in the first Busch race of his career. The 39-car field will take the green flag at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Notes

Terry Labonte holds the record for the most all-time Busch Series wins at Watkins Glen with four. And he won three consecutive races between 1994 and 1996.

Labonte and Fellows are tied for the most pole position starts with two. In addition, Labonte and Fellows are the only drivers to have won from the pole.

Six of the 10 Busch races at Watkins Glen have been won from the top-three starting positions. Only twice has a winner won from outside the top-10 Ernie Irvan and Terry Labonte).

Chevrolet has won eight of the 10 Busch races at the Glen, including the last seven. Ford and Oldsmobile each have one win.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Terry Labonte , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett