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Sports

Rain places Gordon on Texas pole

April 13th, 2007 10:54 pm by Associated Press



FORT WORTH, Texas - Jeff Gordon will start on the pole without driving a lap after NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying was canceled Friday because of severe storms that led to tornado warnings.


The field for the Samsung 500 on Sunday was set by season points, with series leader Gordon and Jeff Burton on the front row.


No tornadoes threatened the speedway, but heavy rain came through the area about a half-hour before the already-delayed qualifying was scheduled to begin. The system with heavy wind moved quickly moved through the area, but soaked the track.


Waltrip will miss his sixth straight race. The two-time Daytona 500 winner, in the first year with the Toyota team he owns, didn't have enough season points to get in the 43-car field. Dale Jarrett, who drives for Waltrip's team, made the field on a past champion provisional and will start 37th. The other Waltrip driver, David Reutimann, didn't get in the race.


Texas is one of three active tracks where Gordon hasn't won - the four-time Cup champion is 0-for-12 at the 1½-mile, high-banked track. The others are Phoenix (16 races) and Homestead (eighth).


Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's teammate with Hendrick Motorsports, will start third. He's won three of the past four races this season, but like Gordon hasn't won at Texas.


Johnson is at Texas for the eighth time, and is coming off a runner-up finish to Tony Stewart last fall. Johnson's worst finish is 11th. Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards rounded out the top 10 starting spots. There has never been a repeat winner in the 12 Cup races at Texas. Terry Labonte is the only former winner not racing this weekend. Before failing to qualify for the last five races, Waltrip's team was caught cheating during preparations for the season-opening Daytona 500. NASCAR found a fuel additive in his engine, and Waltrip was docked a record 100 driver points. His crew chief was fined a record $100,000 and suspended indefinitely, as was his competition director. When the first practice was cut from 90 to about 15 minutes because of rain, NASCAR added a a 30-minute practice session and pushed qualifying back about two hours. The cars finished the extra practice before the storms rolled in, and set off weather warning sirens at the track. The weekend forecast calls for cooler temperatures with only a small chance of rain. AP-CS-04-13-07 2003EDT


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