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The Callahan Report: Rudd wins Brickyard Pole; 'DW' on outside front row

3 August 2000

By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel

INDIANAPOLIS, IN: The biggest cheer heard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on pole qualifying day for the seventh Brickyard 400 was not for the pole winner. The cheers for Ricky Rudd, who won the pole for Robert Yates Racing, paled in comparison to the noise may by race fans for Darrell Waltrip. The retiring driver shocked the experts with his outside front row run.

Waltrip, in his farewell tour this year, was as exciting off the track as he was on the track. Waltrip made his qualifying run before Rudd. When Waltrip returned to the pits, none of the fans on hand were using their seats. They greeted Waltrip with cheers that rumbled the asphalt and concrete that make up the World's Greatest Race Course. Waltrip responded by doing his patented "shuffle" at the start-finish line. The applause got louder.

There was another happy spectator ready to greet Darrell Waltrip. Driver of the number 7 Nations Rent car, Michael Waltrip, greeted his brother with a high five as he drove into the pit area.

Waltrip broke the old track record with a run of 180.923 mph. His record didn't last long, but it was good enough for Waltrip.

"This place keeps pretty good records. When you do something like this at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you have done something," said Waltrip smiling.

Ricky Rudd took Waltrip's pole run away 10 minutes after the 27 year veteran returned to the pits. Rudd, in his first year with Robert Yates Racing, was one of the favorites to win the pole. Rudd is a former winner of the Brickyard 400. He won the race when he owned his own race team three years ago.

"I kind of hated to do that to Darrell," Rudd said. "It's really great he was able to put up a run like that. Maybe he's retiring a little bit too early."

Rudd was late showing up in the qualifying line. Rudd said, "They saw some oil in the spark plugs and thought maybe the motor was missing a little bit, so Doug Yates and all the guys on the team decided to put a motor in it. The new motor was awfully good."

In all, 17 drivers broke the old track record set by Jeff Gordon last year.

The top 25 qualifiers are locked into the field. Second round qualifying will take place on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drivers qualifying outside the top 25 included Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Kevin LePage, Chad Little and rookie of the year contender Matt Kenseth.

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