Bobby Labonte wins NASCAR pole

March 28, 2003 at 6:49 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, March 28 (UPI) -- On a day when his teammate Tony Stewart had his car confiscated by NASCAR, Bobby Labonte was able to give team owner Joe Gibbs something to smile about Friday.

Labonte captured the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Samsung-RadioShack 500 with a lap of 193.514 miles per hour around the 1.5.-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

"I didn't see Joe Gibbs here today, but it was a bad situation with Tony Stewart's car," said Labonte. "Rules are rules and I don't even know how that thing is checked, but NASCAR saw something they didn't want to see. They pretty much let everyone else know that what happens with that measurement is wrong. I hope it will be a little bit better day tomorrow for those guys."

Stewart was forced to run a backup car and qualified 22nd with a lap at 190.154 mph.

"Our chassis go into the fabrication shop and our chassis are already ordered," Labonte said. "I don't know the answer why his car was the way it was. I don't know if it was the luck of the draw back at the shop or everybody trying to get all they can out of their cars."

Elliott Sadler was second in a Ford at 193.313 mph.

"I hit my marks, had a lot of momentum going through all four corners, I just came up a little bit short," Sadler said. "It's the same car I had at Atlanta and we were able to back it up, so that makes me happy.

"It's the second year in a row that I got the outside pole here, so maybe one of

these days, I'll get a pole."

Ryan Newman's Dodge was third at 193.140 mph, followed by Jimmie Johnson's Chevrolet (192.747) and Jerry Nadeau's Pontiac (192.630).

All four car manufacturers were represented in the top five in Friday's qualifications.

"Here we go with these common templates again," Sadler said. "There is one Ford in the top 15. It was the same deal at Atlanta. We tried to fix our cars as best we can and we'll see what happens on Sunday."

A total of 45 cars attempted to make the 43-car field. Kerry Earnhardt and Texas native David Starr were the two drivers eliminated in qualifying.

Michael Waltrip, Ricky Craven, Dave Blaney, Kenny Wallace, Mike Skinner, Ken Schrader and John Andretti were all forced to take provisional starting positions and will start 37-43, respectively.

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