BROOKLYN, Mich. -- University of Georgia graduate Buckshot Jones won his first pole on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit in more than two years, but he was upstaged by Mark Martin's crash during time trials for the NAPAonline.com 250 at the Michigan Speedway.
Jones ran his family-owned Cheezit Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a Busch Series record lap of 184.786 mph on the 2-mile, D-shaped oval to win the top starting spot for today's main event (noon, ESPN).
The big story, however, was a crash in the second turn that will keep Martin, who holds the record for most wins on the junior circuit at 44, from starting the race.
"Going into turn one there was a mist on the windshield," Martin said of his first lap during time trials. "Going into turn two the drops started to get bigger. I let it get away from me. I'm usually the last guy to throw in the towel on the damp tracks and it got us today."
Although Martin has more victories on the Busch Series than any other driver, his position as the ninth-place driver in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series prohibited him from accepting a provisional exemption into today's race. The sanctioning body doesn't allow any driver currently ranked in the top 35 in Winston Cup from using a provisional exemption in the Busch Series.
Martin's accident forced an hour-long delay in the qualifying process. Not only did it take time to clean up the mess, but NASCAR took extra time to make sure the track was dry. Jones, whose last posle came in 1998 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, was the third car to qualify after Martin's wreck and the delay proved critical in his performance.
"I would have never dreamed we'd run that quick," he said. "Maybe with the weather the way it was, it turned out just right. We were third out after the rain and that cooled the track for us. It was an advantage for us."
Michigan, located about 50 miles from downtown Detroit, had a couple showers Thursday at pushed Busch Series qualifying back to Friday. Temperatures never made it past 70 degrees on Friday and most of time trials were staged in overcast conditions.
Matt Kenseth, another Winston Cup Series regular, qualified second for the support race to Sunday's Pepsi 400. He was clocked at 184.030 mph.
Starting third today will be Kevin Harvick at 183.744 mph, followed by Ward Burton in fourth at 183.688, Jason Keller in fifth at 183.463, Jeff Burton in sixth at 183.327, Bobby Hamilton Jr. in seventh at 183.071, Jimmie Johnson in eighth at 182.973, Michael Waltrip in ninth at 182.904 and Elton Sawyer in 10th at 182.852.
Jeff Green, who holds a commanding 567-point lead in the Busch Series standings, qualified 24th at 181.947.
The seven drivers who accepted provisional exemptions into the last seven starting spots in the 43-car race were: Randy LaJoie, Andy Santerre, Phil Parsons, Tony Raines, Lyndon Amick, Tom Hubert and Ted Musgrave.
Drivers who failed to make the starting lineup included: Morgan Shepherd, Michael Ritch, P.J. Jones, Rich Bickle, Brett Bodine, Doug Reid III and Martin.
DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL:
Fox Sports added its third analyst to the television booth for 2001 Thursday by signing crew chief Jeff Hammond.
The network first signed driver Darrell Waltrip, who is retiring at the conclusion of the current seson, as a color commentator when it starts broadcasting the Winston Cup and Busch Series circuits next year.
Earlier this week, Fox added crew chief Larry McReynolds, who also announced he would retire as the mechanic in charge of Mike Skinner's car.
Fox, along with TBS and NBC, helped create a $2.8 million television package for the stock car series. Only the National Football League enjoys a more-lucrative package.
LITTLE IN MCDONALD'S CAR:
Chad Little hopes he can read something into Cal Wells' decision to put Little behind the wheel of his McDonald's Ford for the rest of the NASCAR Busch Series season.
Little, who was told last month he would not be retained at Roush Racing next year, thinks the parttime job with Wells' team this year might lead to a fulltime job in 2001.
The No. 97 Ford is a teammate to Scott Pruett's No. 32 Ford on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Wells hopes to elevate the Busch Series team to the Winston Cup Series level next year, and Little thinks his current position might give him the inside track to that job.
Valvoline will announce its sponsorship plans for 2001 today. The oil company, which will end its primary sponsorship role with Mark Martin, is expected to announce an association with Johnny Benson's MB2 team ... Mike McSwaim, crew chief for Ricky Rudd, was fined $10,000 for using a rear suspension piece that didn't conform to NASCAR regulations at Watkins Glen, N.Y. ... Gil Martin, who resigned as Dave Blaney's crew chief, took a new job with Mike Dillon's Busch Series team.
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