Kenseth Ends Pole Drought

Matt Kenseth knocked Jeff Gordon off the Bud Pole late in qualifying for Saturday night's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to win his first pole in over three years.

Kenseth captured his second career pole, first since Dover in May 2002 - 119 races ago - with a lap of 127.300 mph to become the 15th different Bud Pole winner this season.

"It's been a while," said Kenseth. "It was pretty fun to beat the 24 off the pole because he's always known for being so good here."

Gordon held on for the second spot, and his 23rd top-10 start at Bristol, after the final qualifier, Dave Blaney, posted a lap of 127.157 mph good enough for the third position.

"Being the last car out definitely helped out a little bit," said Blaney. "It definitely cooled down more and it was right there."

Kenseth's teammate Greg Biffle qualified fourth with Ricky Rudd rounding out the top five.

Ryan Newman, who finished second in this event one year ago, posted the sixth-fastest lap at 126.955 mph for his series-leading 21st top-10 start of the year.

Ken Schrader will start seventh after he scored his first top-10 qualifying effort of the season with a lap that equaled Ryan Newman.

Bobby Hamilton Jr., Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.

Hamilton was the first of 14 drivers that needed to qualify on time.

"We're in," said an excited Hamilton Jr. "We started and we really couldn't run a good lap today. But, they hit it right on. That was the best I've ever had here. I drove it in and just turned it and it just stuck."

After crashing in practice, point leader Tony Stewart qualified his back-up car in the 17th position.

Spring Bristol winner Kevin Harvick and nine-time BMS champion Rusty Wallace qualified 19th and 20th, respectively.

Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will start 41st, summed up his qualifying run with two words, "Real crappy."

The six drivers that failed to qualify for the 500-lap event were Wayne Anderson, Mike Garvey, Johnny Sauter, Morgan Shepherd, P.J. Jones and Tony Raines.

Television coverage of Saturday night's Sharpie 500 will begin at 7 p.m. (ET) on TNT.

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