Dave Blaney won the first pole of his career today when most teams chose not to bother with qualifying on a cold, wet day at North Carolina Speedway.
Practice and qualifying were delayed by rain, and with the possibility of more bad weather before the Subway 400 on Sunday, most teams spent today's only practice session working on race setups.
It made for lackluster qualifying runs, with Blaney taking the top spot by turning a lap in the No. 77 Ford at 154.683 mph.
"That's pretty cool," Blaney said. "But Sunday is when it really counts, and that would be really cool."
It was Blaney's first pole in 113 Winston Cup starts. His previous best starting spot was third, last year in Richmond.
"We were a little bit scared coming in because we had a brand new car that we had never tested or anything," Blaney said. "We had a lot of different stuff than we're used to running."
Johnny Benson, who scored his only Winston Cup victory here last November, qualified second in a Pontiac by turning a lap of 154.553 around Rockingham's high-banked, 1.017-mile oval.
Mark Martin qualified third in the same Ford that finished second here last year. Sterling Marlin and Bill Elliott qualified fourth and fifth in Dodges.
Ricky Craven was sixth in a Pontiac, followed by rookie Jamie McMurray, Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett.
Bobby Labonte was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet at 10th, a big drop-off after the Monte Carlos dominated last week at Daytona.
Martin, admittedly surprised to see the Chevys struggling, said he was confident the Monte Carlos would give his Ford a strong challenge Sunday.
"It may just be a coincidence, the weekend is not over with yet," Martin said. "But, yeah, I am sweating that. That crowd is awfully happy -- a lot happier with the cars than they were last year, so that is something I'm watching and am concerned about."
For the second straight week, weather was a major factor in what teams did.
The season-opening Daytona 500 was cut short 91 laps from the finish by rain, forcing teams to play guessing games over the course of the race as to when it might end.
They were doing it again today after morning rain pushed the schedule back so far that is was almost dark when the final cars ran their qualifying laps.