DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Mark Martin knocked teammate Jeff Burton off the pole Friday in the opening round of qualifying for the TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway.
Burton set the target with a lap of 168.284 mph on the treacherous egg-shaped oval, but Martin pushed his friend to the outside of the front row with a speed of 166.665.
It was the first pole of the season and 36th of his career for Martin, whose Roush Racing Ford is eighth in the Winston Cup points after the first four races of 1998.
"I don't know what to say. I was sure that was a backstretch run right there," said Martin, referring to the fact that anyone not qualifying among the top 28 has the disadvantage of pitting on the back straight during the race.
"We were off in practice and didn't make any adjustments. I didn't think it was that great a lap. I don't know how I beat Jeff. I guess the car was just magic this time."
Earlier this week, NASCAR lopped two inches off the width of the Ford rear spoilers, a move intended to slow the new Tauruses and equalize the competition. It didn't appear to help much in qualifying, with Fords taking the top five spots and six of the top seven for Sunday's race.
Burton, who said he wasn't disappointed about losing the Winston Cup pole to Martin after winning the Busch Series pole earlier in the day, refuted the statistical evidence that the Fords still have an aerodynamic edge.
"You can tell that spoiler is not there; that's for sure," he said. "The cars are all pretty equal right now. NASCAR did a good job at the wind tunnel. They took a lot from us in one week."
Dale Jarrett, the defending winner of this race, was third at 168.186, followed by Dick Trickle at 168.163, top rookie Kenny Irwin at 168.140, and Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte -- coming off a victory two weeks ago at Atlanta -- and Michael Waltrip, both at 168.129.
Rounding out the top 10 were the Chevrolet of Sterling Marlin at 168.071, Ward Burton in a Pontiac at 167.853, rookie Kevin LePage's Chevy at 167.710 and the Taurus of Geoff Bodine at 167.670.
Rusty Wallace, the series points leader and another Ford driver, was 14th at 167.493, while Jeff Gordon, the defending Winston Cup champion and winner of three of the last four events on the 1.366-mile Darlington track, was 24th at 166.738.
Randy LaJoie, the two-time defending Busch Series champion, who is subbing for injured Ricky Craven, was just ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon at 166.811.
Among the drivers who failed to lock in starting spots by finishing among the top 25 were Derrike Cope, who is driving with cracked ribs from an Atlanta crash, Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte and Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt.
Ron Hornaday, substituting for injured rookie Steve Park, who sustained multiple fractures in a crash during practice at Atlanta, hit the wall in the morning practice and was last among the 49 drivers who made qualifying attempts. His backup Chevrolet turned a lap of only 160.932.
The non-qualified drivers can either stand on their Friday lap or try again on Saturday. The top 36 qualifiers make the field on speed, with the rest of the 37-car lineup filled by provisionals based on car-owner points and series championships.
Rest of the 43-car lineup to be determined today in further time trials.
1. (6) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark., Ford, 168.665.
2. (99) Jeff Burton, South Boston, Va., Ford, 168.284.
3. (88) Dale Jarrett, Hickory, N.C., Ford, 168.186.
4. (90) Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Ford, 168.163.
5. (28) Kenny Irwin, Indianapolis, Ind., Ford, 168.140.
6. (18) Bobby Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Pontiac, 168.129.
7. (21) Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 168.129.
8. (40) Sterling Marlin, Columbia, Tenn., Chevrolet, 168.071.
9. (22) Ward Burton, South Boston, Va., Pontiac, 167.853.
10. (91) Kevin LePage, Shelbourne, Vt., Chevrolet, 167.710.
11. (7) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 167.670.
12. (98) Greg Sacks, Mattituck, N.Y., Ford, 167.493.
13. (96) David Green, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 167.379.
14. (2) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., Ford, 167.362.
15. (75) Rick Mast, Rockbridge Baths, Va., Ford, 167.299.
16. (43) John Andretti, Indianapolis, Pontiac, 167.288.
17. (77) Robert Pressley, Asheboro, N.C., Ford, 167.214.
18. (10) Ricky Rudd, Chesapeake, Va., Ford, 167.208.
19. (31) Mike Skinner, Susanville, Calif., Chevrolet, 167.135.
20. (16) Ted Musgrave, Franklin, Wis., Ford, 167.118.
21. (26) Johnny Benson, Grand Rapids, Mich., Ford, 166.981.
22. (11) Brett Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 166.947.
23. (50) Randy LaJoie, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 166.811.
24. (24) Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro, Ind., Chevrolet, 166.738.
25. (13) Jerry Nadeau, Danbury, Conn., Ford, 166.687.Failed to Qualify
26. (30) Derrike Cope, Spanaway, Wash., Pontiac, 166.676.
27. (33) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevrolet, 166.670.
28. (5) Terry Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Chevrolet, 166.653.
29. (9) Lake Speed, Jackson, Miss., Ford, 166.647.
30. (23) Jimmy Spencer, Berwick, Pa., Ford, 166.619.
31. (81) Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., Ford, 166.461.
32. (94) Bill Elliott, Dawsonville, Ga., Ford, 166.405.
33. (41) Steve Grissom, Gadsden, Ala., Chevrolet, 166.264.
34. (42) Joe Nemechek, Lakeland, Fla., Chevrolet, 165.877.
35. (4) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn., Chevrolet, 165.777.
36. (35) Todd Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Pontiac, 165.693.
37. (78) Gary Bradberry, Chelsea, Ala., Ford, 165.648.
38. (46) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Basalt, Colo., Chevrolet, 165.592.
39. (12) Jeremy Mayfield, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 165.632.
40. (29) Jeff Green, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 165.309.
41. (3) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevrolet, 165.259.
42. (17) Darrell Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 165.242.
43. (44) Kyle Petty, Randleman, N.C., Pontiac, 164.815.
44. (36) Ernie Irvan, Salinas, Calif., Pontiac, 164.788.
45. (97) Chad Little, Spokane, Wash., Ford, 164.782.
46. (8) Hut Stricklin, Calera, Ala., Ford, 164.079.
47. (05) Morgan Shepherd, Conover, N.C., Ford, 162.442.
48. (71) Dave Marcis, Wausau, Wis., Chevrolet, 162.088.
49. (1) Ron Hornaday, Palmdale, Calif., 160.932.