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Stewart Takes the Pole at The Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.

Tony Stewart, driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet, qualified on the pole for Sunday's Sirius At The Glen NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International.

Then, after the rains came, he was awarded the pole based upon the #20 team's standing in car owner points.

"I was a little loose off the carousel and off turn 10, but we've been fast since we got here," said Stewart, a two-time race winner at The Glen. "When you have an impound race, you want to be a little free so that when you take the tape off, your balance is where it needs to be.

"Either way, there were still nine cars to go (when the rain washed out the rest of qualifying), so if somebody beat us, they beat us. Starting on the pole either way doesn't matter to me, because we earned it either way. I'm really proud of that, no matter what happens.

"Starting on points might help us a little bit on the front. Guys that weren't maybe that fast on speed are going to be starting up there, so that may help us get away a little bit and save our equipment. Either way, I feel confident that we have a good car."

Stewart toured the 2.45-mile road course in 71.624 seconds with an average speed of 123.143 mph. Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates - Bobby Labonte and Terry Labonte - will start 23rd and 35th, respectively, based upon their team's standing in car owner points.

Watkins Glen would have likely marked Stewart's ninth career Bud Pole position in 234 races, with his most recent pole coming five races ago at Daytona (Fla.), a race in which he won from the pole. Had qualifying not been rained out, JGR would have accumulated its 35th Nextel Cup pole position in its 14-year history.

Rounding out the top-five starting spots for Sunday's race were Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch. All were lined up according to car owner points.

Forty-six drivers were attempting to qualify for the 90-lap race. Those not making the cut in the 43-car field were Scott Pruett, Chris Cook and Tom Hubert. Pruett, however, will start in place of Sterling Marlin in the #40 car, as Marlin is home in Tennessee attending to his ailing father.

The Sirius At The Glen gets underway on Sun., Aug. 14 at 1:35 p.m. EDT. NBC will carry live coverage of the event.

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