Rookie Tony Stewart tested at Sears Point in anticipation of his first road course race. It was worth it. Stewart will start alongside pole-sitter Jeff Gordon in today's NASCAR Save Mart/Kragen 350 in Sonoma, Calif.
Stewart's team made a trip to the Northern California track in April, just before the California 500 in Fontana. Earlier in the month, he took a one-day Russell Racing School course at Sears Point in an open-wheel car. "The little tidbits I learned here and there really helped a lot," he said. "Any time you can get on a race track in any type of car and learn the sweet spots, that's a plus."
Gordon won the pole Friday with a speed of 98.519 mph. Stewart went 98.277 mph.
Stewart, the rookie sensation currently sixth in the Winston Cup standings, has not competed on a road course since he raced go-karts as a kid. "I definitely think Sunday is going to be one of the biggest challenges of the year for sure," he said.
CART: Juan Montoya played the role of spoiler yesterday, cruising around Burke Lakefront Airport in the final two minutes of qualifying to win the pole for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland. The rookie sensation from Colombia won his second straight pole and third of the season. Montoya's Reynard-Honda turned a lap of 133.448 mph, just shy of the record of 134.385 mph set last year by Alex Zanardi, the driver Montoya replaced.
IRL: Greg Ray, maintaining a season-long habit of fast qualifying times, captured his second pole of the year in a tuneup for today's Radisson 200 in Fountain, Colo. Ray, qualifying in the front row for the fourth time in five IRL races this season, turned in a lap of 176.005 mph on Pikes Peak International Raceway's one-mile oval.
FORMULA ONE: Rubens Barrichello of Brazil got the better of the circuit's best, taking the pole for today's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
The Brazilian, in a Stewart-Ford, went around the nine-turn, 2.64-mile circuit in 1 minute 38.441 seconds.
CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS: Pole-sitter Ron Fellows outdueled Mike Wallace, coming from 5.2 seconds behind in the waning laps to win the Bully Hill Vineyards 150 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.