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Jeff Gordon 'wins' the pole, when Martinsville 500 qualifying is rained out

   Better to be lucky than good....but at the moment Jeff Gordon is both, and on Sunday's pole (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch, one-two in the Sprint Cup standings, will be on the front row for Sunday's Martinsville Goody's 500, with Friday's rainout of qualifying, with Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch right behind them.
   As tough as this point road is, those four men should have a decided advantage Sunday.
   Goodyear's softer right-side tire could be a factor in the race, drivers say. That could make for more aggressive racing, but also more pit stops. 
   With little time for practice, teams don't know how much the new softer tires will fall off and slow down. Most teams recognized rain looming and thus used race-day setups for practice.
   "This is a good time to be leading the points, because of the pit road situation," Gordon said. "This is a good reward for the hard work we've done the last five weeks.
   "With this new tire, I definitely expect Jimmie to be a good competitor here....but we don't know who else might be strong."
  But putting Gordon on the pole, and giving him the best pit, that's like giving Tiger Wood three shots up.
   "Track position is going to be important," Kurt Bush says. "And there is only one good spot on this pit road. There are two or three other spots…but there is definitely something about that first pit box."
   Jimmie Johnson took advantage of rain on qualifying day last fall, and used that first pit box well, leading over 300 of the 500 laps.
   "The rich just seem to get richer," Kurt Busch said. "That pit box will only make Jeff Gordon stronger. He'll probably lead 339 laps this time just like Jimmie did last year."
   For years the past season's champion would get the best pit selection, and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. used that to his advantage frequently, until enough rivals finally persuaded NASCAR to change that rule.
    "Racing at Martinsville is like racing around the WalMart parking lot -- it's flat, and crowded, and there's always somebody in your way," Busch said of this flat half-mile near the Blue Ridge.
    Martinsville 500 Friday Practice



Don't give Gordon the race

Don't give Gordon the race trophy yet - he's run well this season but nowhere has he had enough muscle to actually win the race. I'll be somewhat surprised if he wins the race this time.

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