Kurt Busch wins first Bristol pole

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kurt Busch, winner of the March race at Bristol Motor Speedway, made the first step toward a 2006 double by winning the pole for Saturday's Sharpie 500 Nextel Cup race.
Busch, the 22nd driver to make a qualifying attempt, turned a lap in 15.362 seconds (124.906 mph), knocking Tony Stewart, who had gone out 16th, off the provisional pole.
It was the first pole at Bristol for the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, who is seeking his sixth victory at the .533-mile short track.
"The Miller Lite car was very loose," Busch said, "but loose is on the edge of very fast and out of control here. I definitely love Bristol. Every time we come here, I feel like I need to learn more to stay on top."
Jeff Burton (124.808 mph) and Bobby Labonte (124.484 mph), both of whom qualified late in the session, were second and third, respectively. Matt Kenseth (124.404 mph) and Stewart (124.299 mph) completed the top five.
After roaring through the first two corners, Burton lost time in Turns 3 and 4 when his No. 31 Chevrolet tightened up.
"That was my fault," Burton said. "We thought the track would loosen up as the day went along, but it didn't. It actually tightened up, and we lost a lot of speed in 3 and 4. But (it was) a really good qualifying lap, and hopefully we can take advantage of it."
After hearing repeatedly that the track was hot and slick, Labonte's No. 43 team compensated for the conditions.
"We made a little air pressure adjustment," Labonte said. "The run was a little free, but the car really dug up off the corner, and that's what got us the extra half of a tenth (of a second) we needed (to make the top five)."
Points leader Jimmie Johnson will start 18th Saturday night.
One of the major casualties during qualifying was Greg Biffle, whose slim chances of making for the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup were further dimmed by a 35th-place starting spot. Biffle backed his primary car into the wall during first practice and made his qualifying attempt in a backup car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have to come from the back of the pack if he's to hold onto 10th place in the points standings. Earnhardt couldn't find the handle on his No. 8 Chevy during qualifying and will start 40th. Kasey Kahne, who's 11th in points and 49 behind Earnhardt for the last Chase-eligible position, goes off 31st.