Johnson wins pole at Dover; Busch gets one day with new crew chief
DOVER, Del. - Tony Stewart understands losing his regular-season points lead is part of Chase racing. He's just puzzled why so many critics want to change the points system.
"The system is a simple system," Stewart said on Friday. "It is easy to understand, it doesn't need to be complicated by trying to throw more numbers in there to confuse the fans."
Stewart's lead after the first 26 races was wiped out before the first Chase for the championship race last week at New Hampshire. He finished 14th and is in sixth place entering Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway.
The two-time Cup champion said last week a $1 million bonus should be awarded to the points leader at the end of the first 26 races.
That's about all he would change of the format that resets the points over the final 10 races to decide the champion.
"We are all going to have the same amount of points, plus whatever race wins we have. We are going to get 10 extra bonus points for those. It's easy to understand," Stewart said. "Everybody knows it going in to it. There is no frustration because you know that going in to it."
Mark Martin started the Chase with a 10-point cushion over Stewart and Jimmie Johnson because of his series-high four wins this year.
"I don't care if I was leading by a thousand points, it's not frustrating to lose those points," Stewart said.
Defending champion Johnson wins pole at Dover. At Dover, Del., Jimmie Johnson will go for the Dover sweep from the pole.
Johnson turned a lap of 157.356 mph at Dover International Speedway and will start first for only the second time this season. He led a career-high 298 laps in May to win at the Monster Mile.
The top four spots at qualifying spots for Sunday's race all went to Chase for the championship drivers. Juan Pablo Montoya was second, Ryan Newman third and Greg Biffle fourth.
The remainder of the Chase drivers were scattered among the field. Kasey Kahne was sixth and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon seventh. Brian Vickers was 12th and Denny Hamlin 13th. Points leader Mark Martin qualified 14th and Kurt Busch was 16th.
Busch says one day with crew chief enough. Kurt Busch says preparation for the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway went "maybe better than normal" because having only one day to meet with his crew chief forced his team to focus.
Pat Tryson was asked by Penske Racing to only visit the race shop during the weekly competition meeting because he's leaving at the end of the season. The team doesn't want him to be part of the planning for 2010.
Busch is fifth in the Chase for the championship standings. Tryson is moving to Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the year. Tryson, who said his decision has nothing to do with his relationship with Busch, will become the crew chief for Martin Truex Jr.
"Instead of it being strung for a couple of days, or little meetings here and there, it was, boom, one after the next," Busch said. "Everybody was sharp and focused It went that much better in my mind. We all have to work a little bit harder and do things a little bit different with the position we've been put in. It seemed exciting."