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Auto Racing

Rain gives Stewart pole

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 12:25 AM
LOUDON, N.H. -

Tony Stewart had to move to a backup car Friday after crashing in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The series points leader hit the wall hard early in the session on the 1.058-mile oval, sending the crew of his Stewart-Haas Racing team scrambling to get the backup No. 14 Chevrolet ready in time to get Stewart back on track.

Qualifying, however, was rained out, setting the lineup for Sunday's race by owner points and putting Stewart on the pole, the same thing that happened at Pocono.

"I just got loose going in the corner," said Stewart, co-owner of the team. "Goodyear came down and was worried, but it wasn't a tire problem. Once I got out of the groove, I just ran out of room. I was staying right with it and I just needed another 50 feet to get it gathered up. I just ran out of racetrack."

It's the second time in four races that Stewart has crashed and been forced to move to a backup car. At Pocono, he started from the rear of the field after crashing in Saturday practice and won his first race as an owner-driver.

IRL: Dario Franchitti won the pole for tonight's race at Richmond International Raceway.

Franchitti averaged 167.315 mph over four laps on his return to the track as an open-wheel racer.

Scott Dixon, Franchitti's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, earned the outside spot on the front row with a speed of 166.638.

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