Gordon win third pole at Bristol

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
It tried to rain out the Bud Pole qualifying for the Sharpie 500 on Friday, but their was no putting out the flames on the Dupont Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon.
"The whole day had been great for us because we were loose starting out and tighten the car up so we were really good ever since," said Gordon.
It was no surprise that last year's pole sitter and defending Sharpie 500 winner could repeat, for Gordon has a good history of running well at BMS.
"We were worried about the car tightening up too much in qualifying, and we were a little tight through turn one and two driving off the corner, but we were strong through three and four coming up to the start finish line," said Gordon.
Jeff went out turning a lap of 15.038 at the speed of 127.597, just clipping the time of Mark Martin by 0.001.
"We're just happy with that lap," said Martin. "We couldn't do any thing right including getting a good draw." "We thought it was going to be good going out 39th, and then it rain and the sun came out and thought we'll be on the bad end of a draw again, but it turned out not to be an issue."
The Hendrick Motorsports driver led the way after coming out being the 16th qualifier on the track, before a severe storm hit Thunder Valley to delay the event for about an hour.
"I didn't think that was my best lap for I thought we could have got down in the 14 second range, and after the track tried I thought for sure someone would come out and beat my time," said Gordon.
After track drying efforts were done the field resumed with 18 cars left, but no one was quite fast enough to dethrone the defending Sharpie 500 champion.
Michael Waltrip's NAPA Chevrolet posted a lap of 15.069 to take third place followed by Mike Skinner and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five.
"We had a really good set up and a really good test here," said Waltrip. "We were confident that we would be fast when we went out to qualify."
The two top guys in the Winston Cup point standings earned a share of row 5 with Dale Earnhardt rolling off ninth and Matt Kenseth tenth.
A standing ovation was handed out to Ted Musgrave the relief driver of the #7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge who qualified seventh in replacement of the suspended Jimmy Spencer.
Other notables are track qualifying record holder Ryan Newman, who'll start sixth, and Virginia veteran Ricky Rudd who is eighth.
Tony Raines was the top rookie qualifier in 12th with a speed of 126.562, and the local Abingdon Kodak team with driver Johnny Sauter qualified 21st.
"It was a real good lap for us," said Sauter. "Unfortunately we only got to test one day last week."
Those who failed to make the field were drivers Hermie Sadler, Bill Bigley Jr., and Derrick Cope.
It was Gordon's 45 career pole, third at Bristol in the past four races, which has featured the four-time Winston Cup champ ten times starting on the front role.
"I'm always happy when we can pick up time from practice, especially when your on top of the board," said Gordon. "I felt like we were good, but I think we could have gotten a little more out of it."