Jeff Burton Earns Pole AwardShare
It's called, "Silly Season," a time when drivers change teams during the season, or announce they will switch at the end of the year. So who's laughing now? Certainly not Jeff Burton or Elliott Sadler, who will comprise the front row Sunday for the NASCAR Nextel Cup GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Burton, who left the Jack Roush team during the 2004 season to join Richard Childress Racing, came out late in the afternoon to nudge Sadler off the pole and smudge out an almost unbelievable tale. Even Sadler said, "It would have been a cool fairy tale to sit on the pole. That might have been too good to be true. I'll take a front row start. I'm not going to complain a bit about that." Sadler was driving for the first time for Evernham Motorsports, replacing Jeremy Mayfield in the No. 19 Dodge after Mayfield was released by Ray Evernham. Meanwhile, Sadler was allowed out of his contract with Robert Yates Racing, all this within the last two weeks. "The car was very fast, it was a fun lap, and a front row start is pretty impressive for our team," Sadler said, "especially for a new team working together for the first week. That's pretty strong to come out of the box like that." Sadler said the realistic goal was a top 15 start. That was before he took the first lap in his new car. "It's difficult to change teams in the middle of the season because you're used to a particular system. You come to the race with your new team for the first time and you have to change, but I feel coming here this weekend I haven't really missed a step. I've been overwhelmed by the people at Evernham Motorsports." For Burton, it was his third pole in the last six races and fourth of the season, which ties him with Kasey Kahne for the lead. It was also Burton's second pole at MIS, the other being in 1996. He has appeared in 39 races at Michigan. When he was his made aware of his time and speed following his qualifying lap, Burton said, "I wondered, what the heck is going on out there?' To win four poles, that's exceptionally incredible for Jeff Burton, because I'm typically not a very good qualifier." Matt Kenseth sat on the pole briefly, but didn't hold much hope of staying there. "We pretty much got everything out of it that we could," he said. "Maybe I was a hair off in turns one and two but there was no way I could have run as fast as Jeff and Elliott did. I was hoping to hang on but it really didn't surprise me that much when I wasn't able to." One of the big surprises during qualifying was the 33rd fastest time posted by defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart. "It was about a tenth of a second quicker than what we ran in practice, so I'm just glad we gained a little bit," he said. "I just wish we could have gained about three more tenths." Reserved grandstand seats are still available for Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series GFS Marketplace 400. Fans can call 1-800-354-1010 or visit the Gate 24 ticket office at MIS this weekend.
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