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Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rain gives Gordon pole

July 7, 2007

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Lightning dances across the sky over the Nextel scoring tower at the Daytona International Speedway. Rain Friday forced cancellation of qualifying for tonight's Nextel Cup race and postponed the Busch Series race until this morning.

Lightning dances across the sky over the Nextel scoring tower at the Daytona International Speedway. Rain Friday forced cancellation of qualifying for tonight's Nextel Cup race and postponed the Busch Series race until this morning.

— Qualifying for the Pepsi 400 was washed out Friday, leaving several teams out of the season's second race at NASCAR's most storied track.

Nextel Cup series points leader Jeff Gordon was awarded the pole. Denny Hamlin will start second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton.

"It's unfortunate you can't control Mother Nature, and the rules are what the rules are," Gordon said. "It's hard to be too overjoyed about this pole because I do feel for those guys."

Boris Said and two others were poised to make the race, but steady rain forced NASCAR officials to cancel the qualifying session with 14 cars left to make runs. NASCAR couldn't postpone qualifying much longer because of the Busch Series race scheduled to start later Friday.

Said was sitting on the pole when the rain started, and Dave Blaney, Jeremy Mayfield, Kenny Wallace, Michael Waltrip, Scott Riggs and David Reutimann also were in position to make the 43-car field.

But three of the top seven cars that had completed runs were bumped because NASCAR uses owner points to set the starting grid when qualifying gets canceled.

"Believe me, I would rather we qualify and end up 30th or 35th and let those guys do what they earned than back into a second-place start like we did today," Hamlin said. "It's really not worth it to me because we know what all those other teams are going through just trying to make these races.

"You definitely sympathize for them."

The top 35 spots in the field were set using owner points. Brian Vickers will start 36th because he won a race last season. Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott got the next two spots as past series champions.

The last five spots went to Riggs, Blaney, Paul Menard, David Reutimann and Wallace - based on owner points and number of qualifying attempts this season.

Ward Burton would have gotten in over Wallace, but he had made one less qualifying attempt this season.

"It is a shame for a lot of those guys," Gordon said.

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