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The Callahan Report: Irvan Wins Second Consecutive Pole at the Brickyard

30 July 1998

By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel

Ernie Irvan
INDIANAPOLIS: Many rain-soaked fans headed towards the exit gates of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the mid-afternoon Thursday. They should have waited. The ones that left missed the fastest NASCAR lap in history at the world's most famous race track.

Ernie Irvan, along with his Winston Cup competitors, spent the afternoon signing autographs, chatting with fans, and waiting....waiting for the rain to stop. The wet-weather system stretched all the way from Indiana to Missouri. Almost magically, The rains dissipated and the track dried. Irvan and the fans who stuck it out were glad they did. Ernie Irvan was the first driver to make a qualifying attempt for the 1998 Brickyard 400. He also was the fastest. Irvan's record speed of 179.394 mph stood throughout the qualifying session.

"It's really been a great track for Ernie Irvan," Irvan commented. "We feel like the car should be competitive. I get around the Indianapolis track pretty good. But you can't do it without an awesome car. These guys gave me a great car."

Irvan took the pole last year driving for Robert Yates Racing. He made the switch to the number 36 Skittles Pontiac for the 1998 racing season. He brought the knowledge of how to get around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with him.

The Yates team still knows how to run Indy. Dale Jarrett, who won the 1996 Brickyard 400 for Yates, took the outside spot for the money-packed race. His speed was certainly fast, but it was not match for Irvan record breaking run. Jarrett posted a speed of 178.596 mph on his qualifying run.

"That was an incredible lap Ernie put up there," said Jarrett. "Especially being the first car out. I missed my mark just a little bit in turn one getting to the center of the corner, and that hurt me on the exit and therefore hurt the speed there a little bit."

Driving for the other half of the Yates team, rookie and Indiana native Kenny Irwin was the surprise of the day. He qualified fourth fastest overall. Irwin stuck the number 28 Texaco Havoline Ford Taurus on the outside of the second row with a speed of 178.260 mph. Irwin's Indiana rival, Jeff Gordon, placed the DuPont Chevrolet in between the two Yates racers.

Jeff Gordon

Gordon said, "I thought we had a shot at the pole. I guess maybe I just needed to get a little bit more aggressive with the car because Ernie had such a great lap." The defending Winston Cup Champion continued, "But I wanted to get a smooth consistent run and get a good starting position, and I certainly did."

The first four starters all topped the old track record of 177.394 mph. Irvan's name is the one that will appear in the record books. He blazed the track as soon as it was opened for qualifying.

Qualifying for the fifth annual Brickyard 400 will continue Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Only the top twenty-five speeds are locked in. Notable drivers who failed to make the top twenty-five were defending Brickyard champion, Ricky Rudd and 1995 winner, Dale Earnhardt. Both are expected to "stand" on their qualifying times (27th and 28th respectively).

Qualifying Results with position, (car number), driver, hometown, car-make, and speed in mph:

1. (36) Ernie Irvan, Salinas, Calif., Pontiac, 179.394.
2. (88) Dale Jarrett, Conover, N.C., Ford, 178.596.
3. (24) Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro, Ind., Chevrolet, 178.324.
4. (28) Kenny Irwin Jr., Indianapolis, Ford, 178.260.
5. (46) Jeff Green, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 177.915.
6. (50) Ricky Craven, Newburgh, Maine, Chevrolet, 177.701.
7. (6) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark., Ford, 177.588.
8. (5) Terry Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Chevrolet, 177.434.
9. (43) John Andretti, Indianapolis, Pontiac, 177.239.
10. (18) Bobby Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Pontiac, 176.932.
11. (40) Sterling Marlin, Columbia, Tenn., Chevrolet, 176.849.
12. (12) Jeremy Mayfield, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 176.845.
13. (7) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 176.682.
14. (2) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., Ford, 176.665.
15. (00) Buckshot Jones, Monticello, Ga., Chevrolet, 176.512.
16. (31) Mike Skinner, Susanville, Calif., Chevrolet, 176.488.
17. (42) Joe Nemechek, Lakeland, Fla., Chevrolet, 176.377.
18. (90) Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Ford, 176.274.
19. (33) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevrolet, 176.243.
20. (77) Robert Pressley, Asheville, N.C., Ford, 176.174.
21. (23) Jimmy Spencer, Berwick, Pa., Ford, 176.046.
22. (13) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Basalt, Colo., Ford, 175.957.
23. (81) Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Mo., Ford, 175.871.
24. (4) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn., Chevrolet, 175.867.
25. (1) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet, 175.795.

Did Not Qualify

26. (41) Steve Grissom, Gadsden, Ala., Chevrolet, 175.778.
27. (10) Ricky Rudd, Chesapeake, Va., Ford, 175.750.
28. (3) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevrolet, 175.668.
29. (21) Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 175.548.
30. (22) Ward Burton, South Boston, Va., Pontiac, 175.490.
31. (98) Rich Bickle, Edgerton, Wis., Ford, 175.353.
32. (71) Dave Marcis, Wausau, Wis., Chevrolet, 175.135.
33. (44) Kyle Petty, Randleman, N.C., Pontiac, 175.019.
34. (99) Jeff Burton, South Boston, Va., Ford, 174.900.
35. (97) Chad Little, Spokane, Wash., Ford, 174.883.
36. (91) Morgan Shepherd, Conover, N.C., Chevrolet, 174.720.
37. (94) Bill Elliott, Dawsonville, Ga., Ford, 174.635.
38. (26) Johnny Benson Jr., Grand Rapids, Mich., Ford, 174.520.
39. (19) Robby Gordon, Cerritos, Calif., Ford, 173.789.
40. (11) Brett Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 173.745.
41. (16) Ted Musgrave, Franklin, Wis., Ford, 173.728.
42. (35) Darrell Waltrip, Franklin, Tenn., Chevrolet, 173.608.
43. (9) Jerry Nadeau, Danbury, Conn., Ford, 173.568.
44. (75) Rick Mast, Rockbridge Baths, Va., Ford, 173.377.
45. (78) Gary Bradberry, Chelsea, Ala., Ford, 173.277.
46. (96) Hut Stricklin, Calera, Ala., Chevrolet, 173.140.
47. (07) Dan Pardus, Daytona Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 172.821.
48. (30) Derrike Cope, Spanaway, Wash., Pontiac, 172.173.
49. (15) Loy Allen Jr., Raleigh, N.C., Ford, 170.509.
50. (95) Bob Schacht, Chicago, Chevrolet, 168.442.

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