Bass Pro qualifying rained out in Atlanta
The top 10 positions are occupied by the 10 Chase competitors.
SPORTING NEWS NASCAR WIRE SERVICE
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Heavy rains washed out Friday's Nextel Cup qualifying session at Atlanta Motor Speedway and ensured that the focus of attention will be on the front of the field when drivers take the green flag for Sunday's Bass Pro Shops 500.
The 10 competitors in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup will start in the top 10 positions for Sunday's race, with points leader Matt Kenseth on the pole.
"I hope it rains like [crazy] all day," Kenseth said before the cancellation was announced.
"I'm not going to lie and say I wish we could qualify. If they're going to give me first, or we could qualify, I know I can't qualify better than first, so I'd rather have the rain."
It's OK with Gordon
Jeff Gordon, who will start ninth, wasn't particularly distraught at missing the opportunity to qualify, given that the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet has started 25th, 24th and 12th in his last three appearances at Atlanta.
"We want to make sure we get on the track [today] and work on our race setup," said Gordon, who trails Kenseth by 141 points.
"We have to go out there and be spectacular and not have any issues [in the last four Chase races]."
Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, was disappointed that qualifying was canceled.
"I wish we could qualify," said Johnson, who will start third in the No. 48 Chevrolet.
"I don't know how it would all shake out, but maybe it would keep somebody from getting five points [for leading a lap]."
Because the entire field will start according to owner points, A.J. Allmendinger will not make his intended Nextel Cup debut in the No. 84 Red Bull Dodge.
Derrike Cope, Kirk Shelmerdine and Mike Skinner also will miss the race because their teams are not in the top 42 in owner points.
Elliott gets provisional
Benefiting from a past champion's provisional, Dawsonville, Ga., native Bill Elliott will start 36th in the No. 37 Dodge.
After blowing an engine at Martinsville and losing the points lead, fifth-place starter Jeff Burton scoffed at the idea that the "racing gods" were responsible for his problem -- then quickly hedged his bet.
"I don't believe in the racing gods," Burton said. "If they're out there, 'Sorry.' Well, you've got to cover your [behind]."