Chesterfield, Virginia native Denny Hamlin raced his Joe Gibbs Racing #11 FedEx Ground Chevrolet to the pole position this evening for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway with a speed of 127.986 mph. Completing an all-Virginia front row is Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton. He raced his #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet to a speed of 127.805 mph. This gives Burton two front row starting positions in one day. Just hours before, Burton put his Busch Series car on the pole for tonight's NASCAR Busch Series Emerson Radio 250.
The main topic of conversation this weekend is the Race for the Chase. Richmond International Raceway's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 is the last chance for drivers to qualify for the 10 race Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship. There are 11 drivers fighting over 10 positions. On the outside looking in is Kasey Kahne. Although he has won a series high 5 races this year, he finds himself 30 points out of that all-important 10th place. He will have his work cut out for him, since he will be starting from the 20 position (126.210mph). Jeff Burton currently holds that 10th position
Jeff Gordon (127.690 mph) will start his #24 Dupont Chevrolet in third position in tomorrow's Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Joining him on the second row is Mark Martin in the #6 AAA Ford (127.407 mph). Martin, and Burton, will be looking to stay ahead of Kahne to secure their spots in the Chase.
Kevin Harvick, third in points, will start his #29 Bare Naked Ladies/GM Goodwrench Chevrolet in 5th position (127.316 mph). Of the other drivers currently in the top 10 in points, Matt Kenseth (#17 DeWalt Ford) starts 10th , Kyle Busch (#5 Kellogg's Chevrolet) starts 12th , Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe's Chevrolet) starts 19th , Dale Earnhardt Jr (#8 Budweiser Chevrolet) starts 33rd and Tony Stewart starts 40th.
Tony Stewart, in the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet, had to qualify a back-up car after wrecking his primary machine early in practice this afternoon. He was less than satisfied with his 40th qualifying spot. With only a 45 point lead over Kahne, Stewart will need to pass quite a few cars if he wants make the Chase. He will hope to repeat his feat from the May 2002 race when he was forced to start 41st after an engine change. He went on to win that race.
The Sadler brothers of Emporia, Virginia, had decidedly mixed results. Older brother Elliott will start his Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge in 14th position. Hermie Sadler did not qualify his RESCO Chevrolet.
The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 will start at 7:40 pm tomorrow. This marks the 30th straight sellout (107,097 seats) for Richmond International Raceway. The racing action can be seen "Under the Lights" on the TNT cable television network. Fans can also listen to the race on XM Satellite Radio, Channel 144, and on the MRN Radio Network: WRVA 1140 AM Richmond; WLQM 101.7 FM Norfolk/Portsmouth; WZBB 99.9 FM Roanoke/Lynchburg; WMRE 1550 AM Winchester/Washington D.C.