All-Star qualifying rained out; Kurt Busch on pole


Associated Press

Posted on May 21, 2010 at 9:05 PM

CONCORD, North Carolina (AP) — Qualifying for NASCAR's All-Star race was rained out Friday, giving Kurt Busch pole position for Saturday's event because he was first in the qualifying draw.

"It feels great. It puts us that much closer to a million dollars," Busch said, referring to the event's first prize. "Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, and my boat put the best lap down today."

Joey Logano will start on the outside of the front row for the four-segment, 100-lap race. Brad Keselowski will start third, followed by Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and David Reutimann.

Denny Hamlin has won three of the last seven Sprint Cup races and his team finished first in Wednesday's Pit Crew Challenge to earn the choice of pit stalls. He will be at the back of the field for the race because he blew an engine in practice, necessitating a change.

"This is probably one of the worst situations you could probably have," Hamlin said. "We didn't get to practice anything. We don't have scuffed tires. A lot of guys will probably race scuffed tires because they're a little bit faster. And we got to start in the back, so it's like a double, triple, quadruple whammy of blowing the motor this early."

The rain hurt other drivers when qualifying was called off. Since it features a smaller field, the starting order was based on the qualifying draw and not the points standings.

Instead of starting first, points leader Kevin Harvick will start 13th. He'll have to make up ground before the final segment, a 10-lap shootout.

"The biggest thing is you want to try and be out front once everybody gets single file as soon as you can to try and take advantage of the aero side of it," said Harvick, who captured this race in 2007. "The year we won, we won from fourth on the restart and passed everybody going through the middle of one and two on the restart.

"With 10 laps, with as fast as everybody's cars are going to be and as much grip as you are going to have, you are going to want to be leading."

Four-time defending points champion Jimmie Johnson will start seventh and Jeff Gordon eighth.

Casey Mears will start ninth in his second straight race in the No. 83 Toyota with Brian Vickers sidelined for the rest of the season with blood clots.

Defending champion Tony Stewart, who won last year after starting 15th, will begin from the 11th spot. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was scheduled to qualify last, will start 18th.

Qualifying was to include the 18 drivers who had already secured spots in the field by winning a race in the past year, or by being a past All-Star race winner (Earnhardt) or Cup champion (Bobby Labonte).

The other 29 drivers, including Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya, will race in Saturday's preliminary Sprint Showdown. The top two finishers in that 40-lap race get a spot in the All-Star race, and another slot will be determined through a fan vote.

The timing of the rain meant bad luck for Montoya, too.

He had the provisional pole and Burton was second fastest after 25 drivers had completed their laps. NASCAR had hoped to get the final four drivers on the track after canceling All-Star qualifying, but track drying took too long and it was called off two hours later.

So NASCAR also reverted to the qualifying draw, making a front row of unheralded drivers David Ragan and Max Papis. Montoya will start 14th and Burton 17th.