Busch on the pole after Chicagoland qualifying canceled

Updated: July 10, 2008, 11:17 PM ET
Associated Press

JOLIET, Ill. -- The line of strong storms moving in on Chicagoland Speedway was so big, bad and dark blue that it looked more like an impending tidal wave on the horizon.

With sheets of rain pounding the track and flashes of lightning across the sky, NASCAR officials canceled Thursday night's Sprint Cup series qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway.

[+] EnlargeKyle Busch
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesKyle Busch didn't even have to hop into his car to win the pole start for Saturday's Cup race at Chicagoland after qualifying was washed out by severe storms.

"That was pretty ugly," driver Jeff Burton said.

The field for Saturday night's race will be set according to car owner points, putting series points leader Kyle Busch on the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. alongside him on the front row.

Busch wasn't entirely happy with his car's speed in practice Thursday afternoon, and hopes the rain stays away for Friday's practice.

"Hopefully, we can get it better tomorrow -- if we can practice tomorrow," said Busch, who leads the series with six victories.

Burton will start third, alongside Carl Edwards. With the field of 43 being set according to points, Johnny Sauter and Tony Raines failed to make the field.

Although this is the first year NASCAR will run under the lights at Chicagoland, drivers didn't seem particularly upset about missing out on their first chance to drive the track at night. Qualifying laps don't necessarily tell drivers and teams much about how the track will react under race conditions.

"Just qualifying at night, I don't think, would have taught you anything about conditions for Saturday night," Burton said.

Busch hopes to learn something about changing track conditions from Friday night's Nationwide series race.

"We'll get to see firsthand what the track's going to do," Busch said.

With no night practices scheduled before Saturday's race, drivers and teams have to take educated guesses at which adjustments might help adapt the car to nighttime track conditions.

"There's going to be a learning curve, for sure," said Burton, who also is in Friday's Nationwide race to learn track conditions.

Greg Biffle was fastest in the first practice session Thursday afternoon, with a lap of 179.748 mph.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press