Another pole for Bryan Herta, another chance for that elusive first victory.
The 28-year-old from New Albany, Ohio, captured his fifth career pole Saturday, breaking Dario Franchitti's day-old track record in the bright sunshine of Portland International Raceway.Herta earned the pole for Sunday's Budweiser-G.I. Joe's 200 in his Reynard Ford with a fast lap of 58.358 seconds (121.341 mph) on the nine-turn, 1.967-mile course, the first road layout on the Championship Auto Racing Teams circuit this season.
Franchitti, who held the provisional pole after Friday's first round of qualifying, was second Saturday in a Reynard Honda and will start alongside Herta in the first row. Franchitti had a top time of 58.447 (121.156 mph). Scott Pruett, who started from the pole in Portland last year, qualified third in a Reynard Ford at 58.645 (120.747 mph), by far his best starting position of the season.
POCONO 500: The only battle Rusty Wallace wants to have with Jeff Gordon is to see who arrives first at the checkered flag Sunday in the Pocono 500 in Long Pond, Pa.
He would prefer not to discuss a crash two weeks ago at Richmond, Va. - their second high-profile tangle in 14 months. But they are together on the front row, and the tight turns at Pocono International Raceway could put them in close quarters for much of the race.
"I don't have a problem at all running with Gordon," Wallace said Saturday. "He shouldn't have a problem running with me.
"I'm going to go out there and race hard, and that'll be it."
Gordon's approach to the race Sunday is much the same, and he is trying to put Richmond behind him. But there lingers some resentment over the way Wallace acted in the aftermath of the crash that cost Gordon the lead in the Winston Cup standings.
Five days after Richmond, Wallace collided with Dale Earnhardt in practice, sending Earnhardt's car into the wall at Michigan Speed-way.
"The most disappointing thing to me was how he said he was sorry to Earnhardt, how he said he was sorry to Earnhardt's fans, and yet he said absolutely nothing, didn't even say he hit me at Richmond," Gordon said. "So I had to say something to him.
"Actually, I joked with him. I told him, `I didn't mean to cut down on you, and I'll try not to do it again.' "
It was an irritated Gordon who criticized Wallace at Richmond, saying video tape proved Wallace put him in the wall. In April of last year, when Gordon tapped Wallace on the final lap at Bristol, Tenn., Wallace did not assail him over the winning move.