posted on Mar, 5 2004 @ 11:06 PM
A week off hasn't cooled down Kasey Kahne.
The 23-year-old rookie, who missed winning the race Feb. 22 at Rockingham by inches, grabbed his first NASCAR Nextel Cup pole Friday in a
record-smashing qualifying session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that featured NASCAR's "Young Guns."
Kahne, driving a Dodge for Evernham Motorsports in only his third Cup start, turned a lap of 174.904 mph, leading 15 drivers who surpassed the
previous track qualifying record of 173.016, set last year by Bobby Labonte.
Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is expected to be the first real test for NASCAR's new combination of a shortened rear spoiler and softer tires --
both intended to make racing on intermediate tracks such as this 1.5-mile oval more exciting.
The softer tires and decreased downforce certainly made the cars faster on Friday, and it was NASCAR's twentysomethings who took greatest advantage of
the new rules.
For the second straight race, there were barely enough entries to fill the 43-car field, with only Busch series driver Larry Gunselman failing to make
Among the drivers who did make the field were "field fillers" Morgan Shepherd, who qualified at 164.986, Carl Long at 163.701 and Kirk Shelmerdine at
NASCAR was embarrassed at Rockingham when 60-year-old Joe Ruttman had to be blackflagged off the track after one lap when it was discovered he had no
pit crew. He entered the race only because he was assured more than $54,000 for making the field.
Series officials said all of the drivers entered at Las Vegas have full pit crews and were qualified to race.