Originally created 02/26/00

Ruttman wins pole for Homestead race

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Joe Ruttman, the oldest regular competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, captured his second pole in as many weeks Friday for the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Ruttman, 55, drove a Dodge Ram pickup around the low-banked, 1.5-mile oval at 146.727 mph to edge Greg Biffle for the No. 1 starting position in Saturday's race.

Biffle, who won nine races last year, lapped at 146.592 in a Ford.

The pole was the sixth of Ruttman's truck career.

"Two poles in two weeks is a great feeling. I kind of took a nap on the backstretch during my qualifying lap," Ruttman said. "Otherwise, the run would have been a little better."

Despite outrunning the fastest field in series history at Daytona, Ruttman finished far back in the race. He led several laps before an accident and then engine failure left him 19th.

"We know we're close to getting into victory circle," said Ruttman, whose last series victory came in 1998. "With this being a Dodge-sponsored event, this weekend would be the perfect time to win."

Andy Houston, who lost the Daytona 250 to Mike Wallace in the final turn of the last lap, qualified a Chevrolet in third at 146.254. Defending champion Jack Sprague, an accident victim at Daytona, was fourth in a Chevy at 145.757.

Dennis Setzer was fifth in a Dodge at 145.576.

Marty Houston, Jimmy Hensley, Bryan Reffner, Randy Tolsma and Wallace completed the top 10 in the 36-truck field.

None of the qualifiers approached Tolsma's 1999 record lap of 149.813 mph.

Wallace, the defending race champion, enters the second race of the season with a 15-point lead over Andy Houston and rookie Kurt Busch. Busch qualified 17th.


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