Stewart Sets Chicago Track Record

JOLIET, Ill. - After a strong rain shower delayed qualifying, Tony Stewart set a new track record Friday at Chicagoland Speedway in qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Tropicana 400. Tony Stewart's Home Depot Chevrolet ripped off a lap 184.786 mph to set the new mark.

Stewart's mark eclipsed the record Todd Bodine set in the inaugural event in 2001 of 183.717 mph.

"If we can stay up there with it, we'll be all right," said Stewart. "It was a good solid lap. It's better than what we practiced. With the rain I didn't know how much grip the track was going to have in it."

It was Stewart’s first Winston Cup Series pole of the season and seventh of his career. He also became the 12th different Bud Pole winner in 2003.

Jeff Gordon will start on the outside of row one with the Top 5 rounded out by Bill Elliott, Casey Mears, who posted his career-best Winston Cup qualfying effort, and Jeremy Mayfield.

"Track position is really important here and we're really happy to be on the front row," said Gordon. "The car has been awesome all day long. What a great effort this team has put in here. I know we're going to be a little disappointed because we were real fast in practice and we thought we had a shot at them."

Jimmie Johnson, who was the last driver to break the old track record, turned in the sixth fastest lap of the session followed by Greg Biffle, Elliott Sadler, Dave Blaney and Jamie McMurray.

Johnny Sauter will be making his first Winston Cup start Sunday after he qualified the Morgan-McClure Kodak Pontiac in the 20th spot with a lap of 181.984 mph.

Jason Keller, driving the No. 81 Kraft Chevrolet for DEI was the only driver to not make Sunday's field.

Sunday's Tropicana 400 will take the green flag at 3 p.m. (ET) with live television coverage on NBC.

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