Lakeland qualifying report

Niessner Earns Jani-King Pole at Lakeland LAKELAND, Fla. (March 27, 2004) - Washington state driver Zach Niessner had everything fall into place to capture the first pole position of his American Speed Association career at the SK Hand Tool 200...

Niessner Earns Jani-King Pole at Lakeland

LAKELAND, Fla. (March 27, 2004) - Washington state driver Zach Niessner had everything fall into place to capture the first pole position of his American Speed Association career at the SK Hand Tool 200 at USA International Speedway.

Niessner in the YokeTV.com Chevrolet turned a lap around the .750-mile oval at 21.637 seconds (124.786 mph) to edge out rookie of the year competitor Steven Leicht in the Waltom Racing Chevrolet by seven-hundredths of a section.

The fastest qualifiers of the day benefited from some cloud cover that rolled into the speedway midway through the session.

"The cloud cover definitely had an impact," Niessner said of his quick lap. "Every little bit helps. I didn't expect that lap, but everything fell into place."

Niessner said the car is good for the race and the team would be happy with a top-10 finish in the ASA season opener.

"This takes a little weight off my shoulders," he said of the pole position. "Last year I started second in the final race of the year at Nashville. You have to have a different focus for qualifying and I think I have finally figured it out."

Niessner picked up $1,000 for winning the pole from Jani-King and is eligible for a $1,000 bonus if he wins the event.

Niessner's teammate for the weekend, Wisconsin's Chad Wood will start ninth in the Wood Brothers Racing Chevrolet.

Leicht, a teammate to veteran Robbie Pyle in the CITGO Chevrolet, toured the oval at 21.666 seconds (124.619 mph).

"This is a nice way to start the season," the North Carolina native said. "In practice the two cars were a little tight and after Robbie (Pyle) made his run he said the track was getting tight.

"We left the car as it was and didn't make any changes," he said. "The cloud cover cooled off the track. I thought I had the pole, but Zach (Niessner) was just a little bit quicker."

A third rookie, Brett Sontag in the Terry's Automotive Group Ford will start on the inside of the second row after turning a quick lap at 21.700 seconds (124.424 mph) and was surprised by the run. Another rookie Wade Day in The Medicine Shoppe Chevrolet will line-up fourth.

"I don't know where that lap came from," Sontag said. "The car was loose coming off the corner, so I was surprised we were that quick. We had to get some help from the cloud cover."

Sontag said his Ford is good on the long runs and hopes that he is running on the lead lap late in the race and can make a run for a podium finish.Kevin Cywinski rounding out the top-10 qualifiers in the 40-car starting field.

The season-opening event at USA International Speedway continues with a fan autograph session scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight. The SK Hand Tool 200 goes green at 8 p.m. (local)

The American Speed Association is based in Pendleton, Ind., and has offered stock car racing programs since 1968, including the ASA National Tour, ASA Late Model Series and ASA Member Track programs. For additional information, visit asaracing.com.

-asa-

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Brett Sontag , Steven Leicht
Teams Wood Brothers Racing