Marlin Wins the Pole for Pepsi 400 at Daytona

From Associated Press

For good and bad, Sterling Marlin always will claim a significant spot in the Daytona history books. He added another entry on the plus side Friday.

Marlin won the pole position for tonight's Pepsi 400 on the 10th anniversary of his first Winston Cup pole--also at Daytona--driving his Dodge around the famed 2 1/2-mile Daytona Beach, Fla., track at 183.778 mph.

Ward Burton qualified second at 183.072 mph, followed by Stacy Compton (182.678) and rookie Casey Atwood (182.597), as Dodges swept the top four spots and continued to dominate qualifying at NASCAR's fastest tracks. Winston Cup points leader Jeff Gordon (182.312) will start fifth in a Chevrolet.

Dodge also swept the top three spots in the Daytona 500 and the Talladega 500. Daytona and Talladega are the only two tracks that require carburetor restrictor plates to limit speeds.

The image of Marlin on the pole is fitting for this, NASCAR's somewhat uneasy return to Daytona for the first time since the death of Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500.

It was Marlin's car that made first contact with Earnhardt as a pack moved between Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap of the Feb. 18 race. Earnhardt slammed into the wall and was killed instantly.

In practice for the Ameristar Casinos Indy 200 at the new Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Eddie Cheever treated a small crowd sweltering in 95-degree heat to a blazing test drive.

The Indy Racing League owner-driver turned in a best speed of 216.973 mph on the 1 1/2-mile tri-oval.

Sunday's 200-lap, 300-mile race will go on without the Heritage Motorsports team, which announced that it is withdrawing from IRL competition until Aug. 26.

Dennis Setzer took the pole for the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, turning a lap at 162.411 mph.

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