Vickers steals Dickies 500 pole during record session


FORT WORTH, Texas -- Brian Vickers, the last of 50 drivers
to make a qualifying attempt Friday at Texas Motor Speedway,
knocked Elliott Sadler off the pole for NASCAR's Dickies 500 before
Sadler even had time to get out of his car.

Moments after Sadler posted a lap of 195.390 mph to bump Kurt
Busch off the top spot for Sunday's Nextel Cup race, Vickers,
driving a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, topped them both with a
sizzling 196.235 during a recor

The top four drivers all surpassed the previous track record of
194.224, set by Bill Elliott in April 2002, and they attributed the
faster speeds to qualifying ending with the sun going down and the
track temperature cooling down considerably in the Texas evening.

"I hate it for Elliott [Sadler], but this car was awesome,"
said Vickers, who earned his first pole of the season and the
fourth of his career. "This thing felt smooth all through
practice. It was just smoking through [turns] three and four.
That's about as close as you can get to being wide open at this

"The last-place draw was great, and not just because of the
weather conditions," he added with a grin. "You know where you
stand as soon as you qualify."

Sadler was pretty happy with his results despite winding up

"It was an exciting qualifying session," Sadler said. "I'm
very happy with where we're starting and this is my favorite
racetrack to come to. For some reason, it just fits my driving

Busch, who leads the series with six poles this season, also was
happy with his showing, despite winding up third after leading with
his lap of 194.854 until Sadler and Vickers took their turns.

"It definitely was one of the most exciting qualifying sessions
of the year because of the speed and the draw that left some of the
fastest cars to the end," said Busch, whose crew chief, Roy
McCauley, was back with the team after a two-week suspension for
using an unapproved shock absorber in qualifying last month at

"I'm just glad to have my crew chief back and looking forward
to this Penske team finishing off the season strong," Busch said.

Among the drivers in the Chase for the championship,
Kasey Kahne, who won the spring race here, was the fastest, running
fourth at 194.812. Kahne needs a virtual miracle to get back into
the championship with three races to go, trailing leader
Matt Kenseth by 210 points.

Kenseth gave everyone in the Chase a bit of hope Friday by
qualifying 36th, the slowest of the contenders.

Jimmie Johnson, who trails Kenseth by just 26 points, was fifth,
while third-place Denny Hamlin, 65 points behind, was sixth and
Dale Earnhardt Jr., tied for fourth with Jeff Burton, 84 points
back, was 10th. Burton was 29th.

Sixth-place Kevin Harvick qualified 21st, seventh-place Jeff
Gordon was 23rd, eighth-place Mark Martin was 28th and 10th-place
Kyle Busch, 249 points out of first, was 11th.

Terry Labonte had to use the former series champion's
provisional to make the field for his last Cup start after his
qualifying attempt came up short. The retiring two-time Cup
champion will start last for his 848th and final race.

Among the drivers who didn't make it into the 43-car field were
David Ragan and A.J. Allmendinger, both set to run full-time in Cup
next season as rookies.

Ragan, who will replace Mark Martin in the No. 6 Roush Racing
Ford after the veteran moves to MB2 Motorsports next season, failed
in his first attempt to qualify for a superspeedway race.

Ragan, who has two Cup starts this season on tracks of a mile or
shorter, brushed the wall on his qualifying attempt Friday and
wound up 48th fastest.

Open-wheel star Allmendinger, making the move from the Champ Car
World Series to NASCAR, never got a chance to qualify for his first
Cup race last week at Atlanta because qualifying was rained out.
Friday, he was simply too slow, running the slowest qualifying lap
of the day despite going out just before Sadler.