LONG POND, Pa. (AP) -- Todd Bodine might have been as surprised as anybody when he won the pole for the Pennsylvania 500.
"We didn't really get the car right in practice," he said after taking to top spot in qualifying Friday at Pocono International Raceway. "We knew we left a lot on the table."
So, he cleaned it up and got his second pole in the last three weeks. Bodine also won the pole for the Tropicana 400 two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway.
He finished 14th in that race. On Sunday, he'll try to end a career-long losing streak of 128 races.
Only eighth-fastest in practice, the driver from Chemung, N.Y., drove his Ford around the 2 1/2-mile track at 170.326 mph. Bodine covered 2 1/2 miles in 52.840 seconds for his third career pole.
"The car was just about perfect," he said. "I don't know that we could have done anything different."
It also was the third straight top-10 qualifying effort for Bodine, who started sixth a week ago in Loudon, N.H.
He said there was no easy explanation for his lap Friday.
"The corners are so different, it's easy to mess up in one and get the other two, but if you do you won't have a good lap," he explained. "I got lucky in all three corners."
Ricky Rudd, who won both the pole and the Pocono 500 last month, didn't get what he wanted. But he was a close second in his Ford at 170.274.
Like Bodine, Rudd had to work hard to find the right combination for his lap.
"We'd been fighting a front-end grip problem all day, and that's the best it's been," he said. "We were happy to run the lap."
It wasn't quite good enough for the pole, but Rudd didn't think he was going to win it after Bodine -- the second car to make a run -- put his lap on the board.
"Todd Bodine put a heck of mark up there to shoot at," Rudd said.
His lap gave Rudd an advantage over Winston Cup points leaders Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett. Gordon and Jarrett, Rudd's teammate with Robert Yates Racing, came nowhere near winning the pole.
Three-time Pocono winner Gordon went 169.163 in a Chevrolet to lock up the eighth starting spot. But Jarrett, a two-time winner on the mountaintop, had a terrible run at 164.372, beating only two of 45 drivers to take laps.
"We were way loose," Jarrett said. "We knew we that when we went into turn one. We'll just have to adjust it for the race."
Rudd, who trails Gordon and Jarrett by 28 points after 19 of 36 races, wasn't ready to write off Jarrett.
"What it means is we won't see Dale for the first 150 miles of a 500-mile race," Rudd said.
Drivers don't want to start deep in the field at Pocono because turbulence on the unique, triangular layout makes passing more difficult than at most tracks."
"We came into this event trying to pick up from what we qualified last time," said Gordon, who started 14th and finished second in June. "We were a little loose out there, but we'll take it."
Jarrett, Gordon and Rudd have been together in the top three since Rudd's victory here, and further separated themselves from the other drivers with a Jarrett-Gordon-Rudd finish Sunday in Loudon.
Locking up spots in the second row were Mark Martin and Ken Schrader. Martin went 169.622 in a Ford, and five-time Pocono polesitter Schrader posted a fast lap of 169.492 in a Pontiac.
Starting fifth will be the Dodge of Casey Atwood, flanked by the Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick. Both are rookies. Jimmy Spencer, Bodine's teammate, was seventh.
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