posted on Jun, 11 2004 @ 06:09 PM
Long Pond, PA (AP) - Rookie Kasey Kahne won the Pocono 500 pole at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA. The No.9 Evernham Dodge circled the unusual
2.5-mile, tri-oval in a track record 52.164 seconds (172.533 m.p.h.) The previous mark was 52.207 seconds set by Tony Stewart in July 2000.
The pole victory was Kahne's fourth of the season, a series high, through 14 events.
"Just a great job by the team,"
said Kahne. "You know it's Ray Evernham's second (pole winning) week in a row."
The front row will be extremely inexperienced as another rookie, Brian Vickers (52.270) will start next to Kahne. Vickers was fastest in the final
practice, but came up just short of the No.9's record run. It is just the second time that rookies have swept the front row in a Nextel Cup race.
Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman shared the front row at Richmond in September 2002.
Row two consists of Joe Nemechek (52.270) and Dover winner Mark Martin (52.360). Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon will
start fifth and sixth, respectively. Stewart, the defending Pocono 500 champion who has grabbed eight top-10 finishes in 10 races at Pocono, will
begin the race in the eighth position.
"Pocono is a unique race track, and it always presents a challenge to teams,"
said Elliott Sadler who will start 12th. "It is the most
unique race track on the circuit. It has two very long straightaways and three very different corners. It isn't always possible to have your car setup
perfectly for all three corners so it is very important to compromise and have a well balanced car that's fast everywhere."
Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., struggled off the truck and could only post the 16th-fastest time. Ricky Rudd will make his 50th "Cup" start
at Pocono Raceway, more than any other driver. Rudd has competed in all but the first three races at Pocono (1974-76), winning from the pole in June
2001. The veteran starts 35th in the 43-car field.
Qualifying is important on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Thirty-eight of 52 events (73.07%) have been won from the first five rows on the starting grid.
There have been eight different race winners in the last eight races at Pocono. The event is scheduled to begin on Sunday at 1 p.m. (et).