Originally created 04/08/00

Rusty Wallace's 500th career start will come in front



MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Rusty Wallace is off to quite a start on the weekend marking his 500th career Winston Cup race.

Just two weeks after reaching a milestone with his 50th career victory, Wallace assured that his 500th start would be especially memorable by winning the pole for Sunday's Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Wallace posted a lap of 94.827 mph in a Ford.

Wallace's lap was just 11 hundredths of a second faster than younger brother Kenny and completed a dominant day for the family. Earlier, middle brother Mike won the pole for Saturday's NAPA 250 Craftsman Truck Series race.

"Geez, what a great deal," Rusty Wallace said after clinching his 28th career pole in NASCAR's premier series. "Kenny's on the outside of the front row, and Mike won the pole for the truck race. ... It's an all-Wallace week."

Rusty Wallace joined Dale Jarrett as the only drivers to win more than one pole through the first eight qualifying sessions of the season, and said two days of testing at the .526-mile oval a few weeks ago helped him in his run.

It also helped when Wallace could do no better than 15th in practice.

"When we weren't real strong off

the bat, I think it made me really dig down deep and struggle to find some more, and we were able to find some more," he said.

"I pretty well got it all."

Wallace's best lap in practice was 94.157 mph.

Kenny Wallace was pleased with his good showing, and the way the whole family qualified, but said he was disappointed that his older brother stole the pole.

"I'm such a competitor that I'm so aggravated by getting beat by him that I'm not really enjoying right now just how good I did," Kenny Wallace said.

"I'm happy, but darn it, I just can't believe it."

Kenny Wallace's Chevrolet will be followed on the grid by the Chevy of Mike Skinner and the Ford of Brett Bodine. The start will be Bodine's best since a third in 1997 at New Hampshire and is his first top-10 here since 1992.

"There's nothing better than to come to a track you like to try to pick up the spirits, and I think this is going to do it," Bodine said. After seven races, his team is 37th in points, has missed two races and finished no better than 16th.

Skinner said he struggled during practice to get the brakes right, then "went in there after practice and rolled the dice. It worked out good for us."

The third row has Jeff Burton, a native of nearby South Boston, Va., and Jerry Nadeau, and the fourth includes Ricky Rudd and Sterling Marlin.

Defending champion John Andretti, who followed his victory here last April with a last-place showing in the fall race, struggled again, finishing 26th.

Winston Cup points leader Bobby Labonte was 13th at 94.279. That was one spot behind Ken Schrader, who had the fastest Pontiac at 94.326.

Labonte's teammate, Tony Stewart, who set the track-qualifying record of 95.275 last year, also struggled, coming in 37th at 93.553.

NAPA 250: Craftsman Truck Series points leader Mike Wallace took the first step toward retribution at Martinsville Speedway by winning the pole for today's NAPA 250 with a speed of 92.615 mph.

Wallace started from the No. 2 position in this event last year and led the first 84 laps and 122 in all, but wound up 26th after breaking an axle late in the race.

Bobby Hamilton qualified outside Wallace's Ford in a Dodge at 92.452 mph, with Rick Carelli, Jack Sprague and Scott Riggs next. Carelli ran 92.420 in a Ford, Sprague 92.272 in a Chevrolet and Riggs 92.159 in a Ford.

BELLSOUTH MOBILITY 320:

Casey Atwood, a hometown favorite, took the pole position for today's BellSouth Mobility 320 in Nashville, circling the 0.596-mile track in 19.235 seconds at 111.547 mph.

Atwood, who also started first in the 1998 Busch Series race at Nashville Speedway, is coming off a season-best seventh-place finish last week in the Albertson's 300 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tim Fedewa qualified second at 111.373 mph, and Dick Trickle was third at 110.872. Chad Chaffin was fourth, followed by Todd Bodine, Jeff Purvis, Bobby Hillin, Jeff Green, Adam Petty and Kevin Grubb.