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Archive for Saturday, March 6, 2004

Kahne claims Vegas pole

Rookie sets record in Nextel Cup qualifying

March 6, 2004

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— 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."

"I messed the first lap up a little bit, but I got it straightened out," said Kahne, who watched nervously from the top of his team's transporter until Kurt Busch, the last of 44 drivers to making qualifying runs, came up just short.

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.

The youngster was asked if winning his first pole was more exciting than nearly beating defending series champion Matt Kenseth for the win at Rockingham.

"Rockingham was a lot of fun," he said. "But that was two weeks ago and this is now. This is a great thing for our team."

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 11/2-mile oval more exciting.

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