Originally created 05/14/05

Kahne sweeps Busch, Cup poles at Richmond



RICHMOND, Va. - Kasey Kahne won his third pole position in as many tries Friday and became the first driver in Richmond International Raceway history to sweep the top spot in the Busch and Nextel Cup races.

Kahne, who edged Ryan Newman for the pole last week at Darlington, S.C., did it again just a few hours after winning the top starting spot for Friday night's Funai 250 Busch Series race at the track.

Newman, driving a backup car after crashing in practice earlier in the day, did nothing but enhance his reputation as the top qualifier in stock car racing with a lap at 129.801 mph, just off Kahne's 129.964 mph.

In the first 11 races this year, Newman has won three poles, started second three times and from inside the top 10 in every other race.

Kahne, meantime, earned his sixth career pole position in 47 Nextel Cup races, and became the first driver in NASCAR to accomplish the pole sweep since Mark Martin at Rockingham, N.C., in October 1999.

"I was worried about Ryan Newman," Kahne said. "I knew he was in a backup car, but I knew he was going to be fast."

Newman said drifting onto the part of the track littered with chunks of rubber caused the practice crash, "but we've got a good backup."

Earlier, Kahne beat Clint Bowyer for the Busch pole with a lap at 128.977 mph. Bowyer's lap on the three-quarter-mile oval was at 128.602.

After the all-Dodge front row, Tony Stewart will start third in a Chevrolet with defending series champion Kurt Busch fourth in a Ford.

Elliott Sadler of Emporia, about 70 miles from Richmond, will start fifth in his Ford, and Ricky Rudd of Chesapeake is sixth, also in a Ford.

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HI & BYE: NASCAR's rule impounding cars after qualifying has yielded days off between qualifying and the race at some places, a scenario that isn't exactly ideal for crew members who would rather be at home.

The schedule for the Busch Series at Richmond, then, was perfect.

"A lot of tracks need to take some note on Richmond," Busch regular Stacy Compton said Friday morning, about 11 hours before the green flag waved for the Funai 250 Busch race at Richmond International Raceway.

Compton and the rest of the Busch competitors had two practice sessions during the day, qualified starting at 4:30 p.m. and raced at 8:05 p.m.

"If we're going to have days off, we'd certainly rather have them off at home than have them at the race track," he said. "I think it's a good schedule. I'd like to see it at a lot more places we go."

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PLAYING CATCH-UP: Ten races into the Nextel Cup season, Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing is the only driver to have interrupted the dominance of the stables owned by Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick.

Harvick won at Bristol on April 3. Other than that, Roush's Fords have won five times (Greg Biffle 3, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch once each) and Hendrick's Chevrolets have won four (Jeff Gordon 3, Jimmie Johnson once).

Johnson and Gordon also occupy the top two spots in the points race, followed by Biffle and Busch, the defending series champion, which makes Elliott Sadler of Robert Yates Racing the highest-placed non-winner.

Sadler is fifth, 252 points behind Busch, and said it's clear early on that that Roush and Hendrick teams are well ahead of everyone else.

"They've definitely hit on the new tire package and the spoiler package, but they have a lot more engineers," Sadler said. "I have one on my race team and Roush has five because they've got five different teams.

"That's tough to play catch-up, especially when you're racing every single weekend. You don't have a month off to do a lot of testing."

Busch said teamwork among the five Roush teams is key to their success. Teams that test share the information with everyone else.

"We work together six days out of the week and go to race on the seventh," he said. "And all of us get along. That's the key element."

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SHELVED FOR SEASON: Josh Yost, a crewman on Jeff Burton's team whose right ankle was severely injured in a pit road accident at Talladega on May 1, will not return to his duties as a jackman this season.

Yost's team said he has undergone two surgeries - the first revealing injuries that included two ruptured tendons, damaged ligaments, a severe laceration and a crushed fibula tip - and the second to repair the damage.

He was released from the hospital May 6 and has been instructed to stay off the ankle for six to eight weeks before beginning a long rehabilitation.

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PIT STOP: With his No. 2 qualifying run Friday night, qualifying ace Ryan Newman will make his 44th front-row start in his 127th career Nextel Cup race on Saturday. Newman has won 30 poles and been second 14 times.