Biffle earns first pole in more than a year

Published 8:42 am Saturday, October 27, 2007

By By MIKE HARRIS, AP Auto Racing Writer
HAMPTON, Ga. — Greg Biffle won his first pole in more than a year, nipping Kurt Busch for the top spot in NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying Friday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Biffle turned a fast lap of 192.453 mph, while Busch had a 192.427 on the 1.5-mile oval. The time difference between the top two laps was 0.004 seconds.
Biffle, who earned his fourth career pole and first since May 2006 at Richmond, is on a bit of a late-season roll after failing to make it into the 12-man Chase for the championship. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has three top-10 finishes in his last five starts, including his first win of the season last month at Kansas.
Busch, who is part of the Chase field, thought he might have taken his second pole of the season after his strong run.
Dale Jarrett, another former champion, not only qualified for his 22nd start in 33 tries, he was third fastest. That’s a big improvement over his previous season best — 13th at Kansas.
Series leader Jeff Gordon qualified eighth, while runner-up Jimmie Johnson, 53 points behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate heading into Sunday’s Pep Boys Auto 500, will start just ahead of the four-time Cup champion in sixth.
Clint Bowyer, third in the Chase, 115 points behind Gordon, qualified 26th.
Among the rest of the title contenders, last week’s combatants Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth were 16th and 17th, with Denny Hamlin 18th, Kyle Busch 19th, Martin Truex Jr. 20th, Jeff Burton 28th, defending race winner Tony Stewart 30th and Kevin Harvick 34th.
Edwards, who had a face-to-face confrontation with Roush teammate Kenseth after last Sunday’s race at Martinsville, was just happy to be back on track.
Among the drivers failing to qualify for the 43-car field was open-wheel star Sam Hornish Jr., who has come up short in six tries to make his Cup debut this year.