RICHMOND, VA. Ward Burton set a track qualifying record of 127.389 mph Friday to take the pole position for the Pontiac Excitement 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race.
Burton, whose South Boston home is about 60 miles from Richmond International Raceway, turned his lap midway through the session and sweated it out as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart challenged. Earnhardt came the closest with a lap at 127.179.
"It's always like that," Burton said. "I really didn't expect to get the pole."
The pole is the seventh of Burton's career and first at Richmond.
The run, one of 10 to eclipse Gordon's track qualifying mark of 126.499, came in the first Dodge Burton's Bill Davis-owned team has built from the bottom up specifically to run on tracks shorter than a mile.
After Earnhardt's Chevrolet, the second row has defending race champion Stewart in a Pontiac after a lap at 127.059, and Gordon's Chevrolet at 126.975.