FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 3, 2004) – Brian Vickers was more than two-tenths of a second faster than the field in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying Friday, earning the second pole position of his young career with a lap of 38.417 seconds at California Speedway.
Wheeling the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, Vickers was the lone driver to top 187 mph around the two-mile oval, besting outside pole-sitter Jeremy Mayfield and third-place Bill Elliott.
“I knew after practice we had a car that could qualify up front,” Vickers said. “What I didn’t know was that it would be good enough to sit on the pole. We made a couple of changes after practice before qualifying that paid big dividends.
“If you would’ve told me we’d be sitting on the pole by more than two-tenths of a second, I would have laughed. I’m so proud of the guys on this team. We struggled some during August, but they never gave up.”
Jeff Gordon was the next-best Hendrick Motorsports driver with an eighth-place effort in the No. 24 DuPont Chevy. The four-time Cup Series champion notched statistics of 38.781 seconds and 185.658 mph en route to his 16th top-10 qualifying effort of 2004.
Gordon was followed by teammates Terry Labonte, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, who qualified 15th, 16th and 18th, respectively.
Labonte was clocked at 38.959 seconds (184.810 mph) in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Monte Carlo, while Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy recorded a lap of 38.967 seconds and 184.772 mph.
Busch, driver of the No. 84 CARQUEST Chevrolet, will start his third career NEXTEL Cup race on Sunday after touring the Fontana oval in 39.051 seconds (184.374 mph).
Piloting his No. 5 Lowe’s/Shop-Vac Chevy in NASCAR Busch Series qualifying, Busch earned the fourth position for Saturday’s 150-lap contest. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native is currently second in the NBS championship standings.
Casey Mears earned the Busch Series pole position Friday.