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Youngest Ever: Busch Nabs California Cup Pole

FONTANA, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2005) – Kyle Busch became the youngest pole-sitter in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series history Saturday, posting a track-record lap at California Speedway in his No. 5 CARQUEST Chevrolet.

Busch, a 19-year-old Raybestos Rookie, was clocked at 38.248 seconds (188.245 mph) around the two-mile D-shaped oval, leading a pack of seven Hendrick Motorsports engines in the top dozen qualifiers.

“The CARQUEST Chevrolet was really running (well) there,” Busch said.  “It really went down the straightaway (with that) Hendrick horsepower.

“My crew chief, Alan Gustafson, and I are trying to jell together and trying to get our chemistry going.  To run that lap here in just our first time out at a down-force track in California is pretty impressive as far as our team goes.”

Brian Vickers, 21, qualified second in the No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevy, pairing with Busch to form the youngest-ever front row in the history of NASCAR’s top-three touring series.  Vickers won the pole at California last September.

“I’m excited for Kyle,” Vickers said.  “He put down a great lap for everyone to chase after.  It’s great to see the Nos. 5 and 25 atop the scoreboard.  So many times it’s been the 24 and 48 teams, but I hope with all of the personnel changes made with the 5 and 25 teams, you’ll begin to see a lot more of this scenario in the future.

“We had a solid lap.  It wasn’t perfect like it needed to be to be able to beat Kyle, but it’s a good starting spot for Sunday.  Coming off Turn 4 to take the green flag, the car got sideways on me and I had to back off the throttle to gather it up.  That cost us a lot of straightaway speed headed into the first corner.”

Driving the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo, Jimmie Johnson was eighth with a quick lap of 38.610 seconds (186.480 mph), while Terry Labonte kicked off his 10-race “Shifting Gears” tour with a solid 11th-place qualifying effort in the No. 44 Kellogg’s Chevy.

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, will start 28th in his bid for a fourth victory at California Speedway.

Joe Nemechek, Mike Bliss, and Scott Riggs, whose teams lease engines from Hendrick Motorsports, were fourth, 10th and 12th respectively.

Scheduled for a 3:10 p.m. ET green flag, Sunday’s 500-mile event will be covered live by FOX and MRN Radio.

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