DOVER, Del. (AP) -- The white banks of Dover have never looked so dirty, and that's fine with the drivers on the front row for Sunday's race.
"It seems like we already have more rubber down on the race track than what we've seen here in the past," Dale Jarrett said Friday after qualifying second for the MBNA All-American Heroes 400.
The reason for that is a softer compound tire Goodyear has provided for the race. The spent rubber might go unnoticed on an asphalt track, but The Monster is made of concrete, making for a glaring contrast.
The tire change also has polesitter Rusty close to giddy over the prospect of racing 400 miles on a surface that will place tire wear at a premium. To make the rubber last longer, drivers should be seeking to run different lines.
"I love it," Wallace said Friday. "I've been campaigning for a softer tire forever.
"These old tires we've been bringing have been so hard, I just thought the racing would be better if we'd get some softer tires and let the tires wear and get it so cars slide around a little bit, and the better cars rise to the top."
Jarrett agrees, figuring that the competition will be better. What could be a thing of the past on the high-banked oval is single-file racing.
"The team or teams that are going to run up front are going to be the ones that can make that balance work," he said.
Wallace stole some of the spotlight from rookie teammate Ryan Newman, the hottest driver on the circuit and a winner for the first time last week in Loudon, N.H.
Shortly after Newman posted a fast lap of 156.576 mph, Wallace got around at 156.822. Later, Jarrett knocked Newman off the front row with a lap 156.576, and then defending race champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the third spot at 156.610.
"Right off the truck, the car was really good," Wallace said. "It was a car we built specially for Bristol, and we decided to bring it here."
Dover and the high-banked half-mile layout in Bristol, Tenn., are the only concrete tracks on the circuit, and Wallace likes racing on them.
"It seems like the concrete changes less," he said. "The tracks don't tear up, and they stay consistent."
Japanese driver Hideo Fukuyama became the first Asian to qualify for a Winston Cup event. He will start last on the 43-car grid for Sunday's MBNA All-American Heroes 400.
"I'm very, very, very happy," he said through an interpreter. "I will be driving with all me heroes on Sunday."
Carter-Haas Motorsports plans to try again with Fukuyama in races later this season in Martinsville, Va., and Rockingham, N.C.
The qualifying results gave Fords the front row for the race. Earnhardt drives a Chevrolet.
It was the first pole of the season for Wallace and 36th of his career. On Sunday, he'll be after his 55th career victory -- but first of 2002.
"It's been a long time coming," Wallace said.
He hadn't started on the point since November 2000 at Phoenix International Raceway, a span of 65 races.
"Any time you do something good, like a pole or a win, it pumps up your team," he said.
Now, Wallace will try to end a 53-race losing streak dating to early last season. A win this year would give him at least one in 17 consecutive seasons, breaking a tie for the Winston Cup record he shares with Ricky Rudd.
Wallace's lap fell far short of his track-record run of 159.964 in 1999. But it was his fifth pole at Dover.
After Newman's Ford came the Chevy of NASCAR Busch series points leader Greg Biffle, who earlier qualified eighth for Saturday's MBNA All-American Heroes 200. Biffle, subbing for the injured Bobby Hamilton, got around in 156.318. He'll share the third row with Kurt Busch, who went 156.196 in a Ford.
Completing the top 10 were Ricky Craven, Elliott, Joe Nemechek and Steve Park. Rudd will start 16th, and Gordon 24th.
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