Originally created 05/15/04

Vickers finally grabs top spot



RICHMOND, Va. - The track record fell again and again in qualifying at Richmond International Raceway, but two drivers also crashed Friday when the new asphalt went from grippy to slippery.

Twenty-nine drivers broke Ward Burton's 2-year-old record of 127.389 mph, led by rookie Brian Vickers. He got won his first career pole with a lap at 129.983.

"Everything just came together for us," said Vickers, who will start his 16th Nextel Cup race. "The track didn't bite us like it did some of these guys. It was a good, smooth, patient but aggressive lap."

Ricky Craven and Kasey Kahne crashed early in the session, causing others to turn conservative instead of trying for the pole on the three-quarter-mile oval.

"I worried about everybody being so loose and I drove it too easy," said Rusty Wallace, who will start seventh tonight in the Chevy American Revolution 400. "I should have got in deeper."

. Left to bake in sunshine for more than 1 hours after a practice in which 22 drivers surpassed 130 mph, the slick track surprised some of the first to make their qualifying laps.

Not among them was Ryan Newman, one of the Nextel Cup series' top qualifiers, whose lap was good enough to earn him the No. 2 spot.

"Going out first was not exactly what we wanted to do," said Newman, whose qualifying speed was 129.970.

Behind Vickers' Chevrolet and Newman's Dodge are the Dodge of Jeff Green and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his Chevy. Green's lap was 129.677, and Earnhardt's 129.639.