HAMPTON, Ga., Nov. 7 -- Kenny Irwin will start from the top spot in Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup NAPA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Irwin captured his first career pole Friday when he drove his Ford around the 1.54-mile track at an average speed of 193.461 miles per hour. He has not won a race this year and is 17th on the NASCAR money list with $1,374,442. Jeff Gordon, who last week clinched his third Winston Cup points title in four years, qualified 21st at 189.980 mph. Gordon recorded his 12th NASCAR win of the season at the AC Delco 400, which also clinched the Winston Cup championship. The 'Rainbow Warrior' has topped $6 million in winnings this year and can tie Richard Petty's all-time NASCAR single-year record with a 13th victory on Sunday. Ward Burton starts from the outside of row one after posting a speed of 193.400 mph in a Pontiac. He is right behind Irwin on the money list and 18th in the points standings. Burton was denied his third pole of the year and first since the Pennsylvania 500 in late July. The second row is comprised of the Fords of Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin. Jarrett, who finished second last week to Gordon despite suffering from gallstones, has raced well here the last two years, winning in the spring of 1997 before recording runner-up finishes last fall and again this spring. Martin, the runner-up to Gordon in the Winston Cup standings, has seven wins this season.
Ford had six drivers in the top 10 as Dick Trickle, Jeremy Mayfield and Geoff Bodine occupy slots eight through 10. Derrike Cope and Bobby Labonte, who both drive Pontiacs, are sixth and seventh, while Mike Skinner will start his Chevrolet on the inside of row three. Dale Earnhardt, who has eight wins in 41 career starts at Atlanta, was not among the top 25 Friday and qualified in the second round Saturday. Earnhardt received a provisional position to start 37th. He has not won since the season-opening Daytona 500. Drivers who qualified by speed today include Gary Bradberry in 26th, Bill Elliott and Michael Waltrip were 27th and 28th, respectively. Jeff Burton and John Andretti made the grid in the 35th and 36th positions. Terry Labonte, Ricky Craven, Johnny Benson, Kyle Petty and Rusty Wallace were awarded the other five provisional spots, while Darrell Waltrip will start 43rd with a past champions' provisional.