Youth returns to top in qualifying

Saturday, July 13, 2002

JOLIET, Ill. -- A couple of NASCAR's precocious kids took the spotlight again Friday, with rookie Ryan Newman winning the pole for the Tropicana 400 and second-year driver Kurt Busch right behind.

Newman, who won the pole for the inaugural Busch series race a year ago at Chicagoland Speedway, made it 2-for-2 on the 1 1/2-mile oval, turning a lap of183.051 mph to earn his second Winston Cup pole of the season and the third of his budding career.

Busch's lap of 182.593 was only 0.0074-seconds slower than Newman as Fords swept the front row for Sunday's race.

"For me, it's a fun racetrack," Newman said. "It's fast and its got pretty good banking and you stick pretty good. This is a place where you've got to keep your speed up in the corners and I've adapted pretty well here."

Busch is coming off a disappointing race in Daytona in which he was held in the pits for four laps as punishment for cursing NASCAR officials over the radio during the Pepsi 400.

BUSCH SERIES: Todd Bodine came up with his first pole of the season when he took the top spot Friday for the Tropicana Twister 300 Busch Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The qualifying session was marred by two hard crashes, with 33-year-old Christian Elder taken to a hospital with a concussion and a broken right shoulder. Dan Pardus escaped injury in a fiery wreck about 30 minutes later.

CART: Cristiano da Matta, who has dominated CART this season, posted the fastest lap during Friday's provisional qualifying for the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland.

On his 12th lap, da Matta drove his black and gold Toyota-powered Lola around the course in 57.641 seconds -- nearly a half-second faster than Tony Kanaan.

CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS: One lap was all Jason Leffler needed to earn the pole for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway near Sparta, Ky.

The veteran of the Winston Cup and Busch series won his sixth pole of the truck season.

-- From wire reports

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