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 place.
"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 second.
"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 style."
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 Charlotte.
"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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press