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Keller Wins Pole at Bristol

August 22, 2002

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BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) _ Jason Keller won the pole for the Food City 250 after qualifying for the NASCAR Busch Series event was delayed for more than two hours Thursday by a spectacular crash in practice that split Mike Harmon’s car in two.

Harmon’s wreck came during the first session of the day at Bristol Motor Speedway, when his car hit an outside wall that doubles as a crossover gate. He was not seriously injured, but the accident delayed the rest of the practice and pushed qualifying back.

But when Keller finally got to turn a lap in his Ford, he ran it at 124.428 mph to take the top spot for the race Friday night.

It was the second pole of the season for Keller, second in the Busch standings to Greg Biffle.

Starting outside of Keller is rookie Scott Riggs. Winston Cup regulars Michael Waltrip and Kevin Harvick were next.

Jamie McMurray qualified fifth, followed by Jeff Green, Mike McLaughlin, Biffle, Scott Wimmer and Winston Cup regular Jimmy Spencer.

Harmon, who escaped serious injury, went to a backup car but needed a provisional to make the field. He’ll start 42nd.

When he hit the gate, which was not secured, the concrete sliced through the front of Harmon’s Chevrolet, and the pieces shot down the track and into Johnny Sauter’s path. Sauter hit the front piece of Harmon’s car and came to rest in the middle of the backstretch.

Harmon, beyond the point of the split and surrounded by his intact roll cage, came to rest on the apron in Turn 2. His engine and steering column dropped off halfway down the back straightaway. The right front clip from the car came to rest up the track from Sauter, near the entrance of Turn 3.

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