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Bill Elliot on Pole for Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400

6 September 1997

RICHMOND, VA. -- When the green flag drops on the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 it will be 'Awesome' Bill Elliott that will lead the 42 cars to turn one.

Elliott snagged the pole after he toured the 0.750 mile track with an event record lap of 21.648 at a 124.723 mph clip. "A good way to stay out of trouble is starting up front," said the Dawsonville Ga. native. "Last week at Darlington it made it easy to stay out of situations. But one bad pit stop or something and you can get in trouble. You can't take anything for granted."

"I'm not surprised. I'm just elated," said outside pole sitter Kenny Irwin. Irwin, in his first ever attempt in the Winston Cup series, toured the track with a 21.656 second (124.677mph) lap in the David Blair Motorsports - Robert Yates prepared Ford Thunderbird. "We didn't come here to sit on the pole or break any records. We just came to make the show and get some laps in and to get ready for next year," said Irwin. Irwin will take over the #28 Yates car next year.

The drivers that will round out the top-five are Bobby Hamilton, Robby Gordon and Kenny Wallace.

Dave Marcis, who has come up short in his qualifying efforts the previous five weeks, looks to be in trouble again. Marcis, who's time was 44th fastest in a 47 car qualifying session that had a less than one second from top to bottom, has a long row to hoe if he is to make the show. "If you don't make it today (first round), you can forget it," said Marcis. Then with a bit of frustration, "It was my best effort. I gave it my best shot. I thought we had a great lap, but that's all I could come up with."

Earnhardt, who suffered a mysterious medical problem in last weeks Mountain Dew Southern 500, will start the event in the 22nd position. "You always feel good when you find out how healthy you are," said the seven time Winston Cup champion. "We'll see what we've got this week. I think we'll get 'em tomorrow night."

Second round qualifying, for positions 26 to 38, is scheduled for 2:00 PM Saturday. The field will roll off with 42 cars after 4 provisional starters, based on Winston Cup car owner points, get their spots

Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel