McLaughlin Grabs Top Spot for NAPA Auto Parts 300

10 February 1998

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Mike McLaughlin captured the Bud Pole Award for the Feb. 14 NAPA Auto Parts 300 Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway, running a lap of 47.335 seconds, for an average speed of 190.134 mph in his No. 34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet.

Joe Nemechek
Joe Nemechek
McLaughlin will be joined on the front row for Saturday's race, the premier event on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule, by Joe Nemechek, who ran the second quickest time of 56 cars that attempted a qualifying run. Nemechek turned in a lap of 47.739 seconds, for an average speed of 188.525 mph in his No. 87 BellSouth Mobility Chevrolet.

"I've got a lot of confidence here," said McLaughlin, who qualified third at Daytona in 1996 and was second fastest last year. "I think everyone on the team feels like they accomplished something by winning the pole. To start the season with the pole is a great thing, now we just have to run good here -- something we haven't been able to do here in the past." Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion and the all-time leading race winner at Daytona Dale Earnhardt, qualified third fastest for his first race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway with a lap of 188.139 mph in the No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet. He will be joined on the second row by Chevrolet driver Jeff Purvis, with Buckshot Jones, Ken Schrader, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Hillin, Indy Racing League star Tony Stewart and former World of Outlaws sprint car champion Dave Blaney rounding out the top 10. In Tuesday's other action, Mike Swaim Jr. won the pole for Friday's Discount Auto Parts 200 presented by ACDelco Rapidfire NASCAR Goody's Dash Series event. Finally, no NASCAR Winston Cup drivers opted to run during third-round qualifying for the Daytona 500, preferring to concentrate on setting up their cars for Thursday's two Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races. The Labonte brothers will each start from the pole in the two 50-lap races, which will set positions 3-30 for Sunday's 40th Annual Daytona 500.

Bobby Labonte captured the Bud Pole Award for the Daytona 500 on Saturday with a lap of 192.415 mph, and will be joined on the front row for the first qualifying race by Ken Schrader. Terry Labonte was second quickest in opening time trials, and will be joined on the front row by Dale Earnhardt in the second qualifying race.

The remainder of the 43-car field for the Daytona 500 will be determined by speeds set during qualifying and/or selected provisionals.

The "Great American Race," the Daytona 500 will take the green flag Sunday at 12:15 p.m. For reserved seat tickets to Thursday's Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races, Friday's IROC/Goody's Dash Series doubleheader or Saturday's 40th Annual NAPA Auto Parts 300, visit the Speedway Ticket Office or call (904) 253-7223.

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article (plus many more) can be viewed in the Racing Image Galleries.

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