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Kurt Busch cruises in California
By TIMES WIRES
Published September 2, 2006
FONTANA, Calif. - A relaxed Kurt Busch, no longer worrying about making NASCAR's Chase for the Championship, earned his series-leading fifth pole of the season Friday at California Speedway.
A 37th-place finish last week at Bristol ended Busch's outside shot at making the 10-man Chase field in his first season with Penske Racing South.
"Just to have the pressure of the Chase - whether you're in or whether you're out - gone, that makes things easier for us," Busch said after posting a lap of 184.540 mph in qualifying for the Sony HD 500.
Brian Vickers was the runnerup at 184.049, followed by rookie Clint Bowyer at 183.505, Scott Riggs at 183.197 and rookie Martin Truex at 182.950.
LESTER OUT: Bill Lester's hopes of qualifying for his third Nextel Cup start of the year ended with a spin near the end of his first qualifying lap.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed," said Lester, who earlier this year became the first black driver to race in NASCAR's top series in 20 years.
STOCK ANSWER: Longtime open-wheel star Paul Tracy is set to drive at least six NASCAR Busch Series races for new Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports team in 2007.
GRAND AM: Scott Pruett averaged 102.214 mph in qualifying to put the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley on the pole for today's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series nine-hour season finale.