Ken Schrader won his third Busch Series pole of the year Thursday, posting the fastest time among the top 25 qualifiers for the inaugural Outback Steakhouse 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Eleven other drivers will qualify Friday for the 200-mile event, the first Busch Grand National Division race ever at Phoenix, and seven more will receive provisional starting positions.
Schrader, 43rd in the driver standings after 11 starts, drove the irregular oval in 27.782 seconds at 129.580 mph.
"If you don't wiggle, you're not trying hard enough, but if you wiggle you throw the pole away," he said. "So I left a little here and there, but we knew it was going to be a solid run."
Schrader qualified No. 1 in the season opener at Daytona Beach, Fla., and earned his second pole at Talladega, Ala. A mechanical failure left him 38th in Florida, and he was 34th at Talladega after an accident.
"The other two were a disaster, but we'll see what happens here," he said.
Ron Hornaday, the NASCAR Truck Series winner at Phoenix in 1998 and 1999, came in second at 129.520 mph and Jeff Gordon was third at 129.403 mph.
Hornaday was driving his first race in a Dale Earnhardt Inc.-prepared Chevrolet built for him.
"That was as quick as I want to go, that's for sure," Hornaday said. "Maybe Kenny let his car roll a little longer in the corners, I don't know."
Gordon, a three-time Winston Cup driving champion, said his car was balky in practice.
"We made a few changes, and I just kind of got up in the seat and drove it like I've driven midgets and sprint cars at this place, and we finally got some speed out of it," Gordon said.
Jimmy Spencer was fourth at 129.106 mph and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the defending series champion and current points leader, will start fifth after a 128.977 mph lap. Matt Kenseth, who trails Earnhardt by 156 points with two races left, placed sixth, and Jeff Green, the winner last week in Memphis, Tenn., made it nine Chevys in the top 10 by qualifying 10th.
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