Tony Stewart seems to run better when he's surrounded by a little controversy.
Stewart won the pole for the Pepsi 400 on Friday, two days after an altercation with a fan at Daytona International Speedway.
He played down the incident after qualifying.
"It's a pretty petty deal," Stewart said. "It's not something that we're even worried about. We've discarded it already."
Stewart covered the 21/2-mile superspeedway at 185.582 mph, slightly faster than Scott Riggs and Jimmie Johnson. Boris Said and Joe Nemechek, both teammates with Riggs, rounded out a top-five sweep for Chevrolet.
Elliott Sadler was sixth-fastest in a Ford, followed by the Chevys of Kevin Harvick and Jason Leffler and Rusty Wallace's Dodge. Kerry Earnhardt's fast lap gave Chevy eight of the top 10 spots in the field of 43.
Daytona 500 champion Jeff Gordon qualified 15th. Nextel Cup points leader Greg Biffle was 18th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his season-long slump and wound up 39th.
Stewart, meanwhile, won his first pole of the season and his first ever at Daytona. It came after a run-in at the track Wednesday night.
Stewart allegedly yelled and cursed at a fan after she slowed him up entering a tunnel to the speedway. Pamela Williams, of Hobe Sound, Fla., said Stewart was flashing his headlights behind her as they entered the track infield.
"I stuck my hand out and made a motion to slow down and this guy raced around me and slammed on his brakes," Williams told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "He jumps out and started walking toward me -- angry and irritated -- like road rage."
Several track workers corroborated Williams's story. Stewart, meanwhile, offered conflicting details.
Stewart told the newspaper that the woman gestured for him to pass her and then waved her middle finger at him as he drove by.
"I say, 'By God, I'm going to find out what this girl's problem is.' So I back up, go to where she stops, get out and walk up to her window," Stewart explained. "I go, 'What's your problem.' She says, 'I think I know who you are.' I said, 'It doesn't matter who I am. What's your problem?' She wouldn't tell us. And that was it."
Stewart later told a security guard he didn't want to pursue the issue, and Williams opted not to call police.
Stewart, who was fined for punching a photographer in 2002 and won a race the following week in the midst of the criticism, declined to retell his version of the story after qualifying.
But he said he was surprised the incident drew so much attention.
"It's pretty flattering to know that anything we do makes that big of news," he said.
Martin Truex Jr. passed Harvick with four laps remaining and held on after a late restart to win the Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
The reigning Busch series champion won his first race at Daytona and extended his lead in the series standings to 71 points over Clint Bowyer.
Nextel Cup points leader Greg Biffle was third, followed by Kenny Wallace and Bowyer.
Earnhardt, who has no victories in the Nextel Cup series this season and is a disappointing 18th in points, ran second behind Truex for much of the night before blowing an engine with 21 laps remaining.