JGR Qualifying Report: UAW-Ford 500

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Date: Oct. 7, 2006
Event: UAW-Ford 500 Qualifying
Series: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Pole Winner: David Gilliland of Robert Yates Racing
JGR Lineup: J.J. Yeley (10th); Denny Hamlin (12th); Tony Stewart (13th)

J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, led the three-car Joe Gibbs Racing contingent by qualifying 10th for Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Yeley turned a lap of 50.686 seconds at 188.928 mph on the 2.66-mile oval. Qualifying speeds were slower than yesterday's practice session as NASCAR officials informed teams before qualifying that they would be using smaller restrictor-plates for the remainder of the weekend. The smaller restrictor plates are one-64th of an inch smaller than the ones used Friday. Each of the plates for Saturday and Sunday has four holes of seven-eighths of an inch in diameter. "The lap was really good," Yeley said. "This car here is the same car that we ran in Daytona. It pulls up good, it qualifies by itself pretty good. I'm really excited about tomorrow. The biggest problem is just going to be trying to find someone that wants to play with me. I know yesterday going through practice I could draft up to the front pretty easy, but trying to find some help sometimes is difficult so we're going to have to lean on the teammates a little bit. I know that Tony (Stewart) pushed me a couple times, and we went straight to the front so it's going to be fun," Yeley's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates ¿ Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet and Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet ¿ qualified 12th and 13th, respectively. Hamlin turned a lap of 50.758 seconds at a speed of 188.660 mph, while Stewart timed in at 50.781 seconds with an average speed of 188.574 mph. "It's about what we expected, lap time wise," Hamlin said. "We made not really a mock run, but a simulation type thing and we ran an .80. So we ran a .70 with a smaller plate. We picked up so it's good. It's a great starting spot for us. You're kind of in a hornet's nest there but if we can work our way to the front, that's where we want to stay. If we get shuffled back we might have to reevaluate where we're at and maybe check it out from the backside." "It's hard to win these races without a lot of help, and we've been good at being the helper," said Stewart. "Our average finish here has been better than most over the past five or six years. That's something we're pretty proud of I was really, really happy with it yesterday. I'm not quite sure what we're going to have now that we've had the plate change. I do know one thing, though. In about 26 or 27 hours, we're going to know whether it was good for us or not." David Gilliland captured his first career pole position with a time of 49.950 seconds at a speed of 191.712 mph. Rounding out the top-five in qualifying were Dale Jarrett (50.001 seconds at 191.516 mph), Jimmie Johnson (50.294 seconds at 190.400 mph), Jeff Gordon (50.347 seconds at 190.200 mph) and Greg Biffle (50.389 seconds at 190.041 mph). Forty-nine drivers attempted to qualify for the 188-lap race. Those not making the cut in the 43-car field were Travis Kvapil, Chad Chaffin, Todd Bodine, Hermie Sadler, Kirk Shelmerdine, Kevin Lepage. As far as manufacturers went, Ford took the top spot thanks to Gilliland's pole position. Chevy was next at the hands of Johnson, while the top Dodge was Ryan Newman at 11th. The UAW-Ford 500 gets underway on Sun., Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. EDT. NBC will broadcast the race live and in high-definition.

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