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'Front Row Joe' worthy of nickname

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Published October 9, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Joe Nemechek has rediscovered that old qualifying magic.

"Front Row Joe" went four years without winning a pole, but he now has two in a row after leading qualifying Friday for the Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The eighth pole of his career wasn't easy, though.

"That's as close as you can be to out of control and still have control of the race car," Nemechek said after taking the top starting spot for Sunday's Nextel Cup race with a lap of 180.156 mph.

It's the first time Nemechek has won two straight poles.

"We've been good all year," said Nemechek, who drives a Chevrolet. "Our finishes haven't shown how good we've been, but we're on a roll now."

Evernham Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield were the closest to him. Kahne turned a lap of 179.253. Mayfield, fastest of the 10 drivers in the Chase for the Championship, ran 179.188.

Another title contender, Jimmie Johnson, was next at 179.045, followed by Bobby Labonte (178.891), Greg Biffle (178.453) and defending race winner Ryan Newman (178.424).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts eighth. He goes into Sunday's race trailing series leader Kurt Busch by 12 points after NASCAR docked him 25 this week for cursing during a live TV interview after his victory Sunday at Talladega.

BUSCH: Paul Menard won his first pole, edging Kasey Kahne by two-thirds of a second for the Mr. Goodcents 300 at Kansas Speedway. Menard had a top lap of 176.062 mph in a Chevrolet.

Kahne - going for his third straight pole - drove his Dodge around the 11/2-mile tri-oval at 175.684.

"We just screwed up," Kahne said. "We did something that made the car go slower."

Menard won the pole in his eighth start.

Chevrolets took eight of the top 10 spots, with Kahne and David Stremme - starting ninth in a Dodge - the exceptions.

Robby Gordon and Kyle Busch will start on the second row, followed by Martin Truex, Ron Hornaday, Blake Feese, Mike Bliss, Stremme and David Green.

NHRA: Doug Kalitta led the Top Fuel field in the Lucas Oil Nationals in Reading, Pa., powering his dragster to a 4.498-second run at 326.95 mph. Ron Capps (Funny Car), Kenny Koretsky (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Bike) also topped their divisions.

FORMULA ONE: A typhoon forecast to hit the area forced organizers to abandon the regular qualifying format for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. Qualifying will be held before Sunday's race, the first time Saturday qualifying has been canceled for a series event.

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