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Marlin sets record pole pace

Sterling Marlin set two records Friday as he won the pole position for the Slick 50 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Marlin's lap of 129.833 mph broke the qualifying mark of 129.203, set a year ago by Bill Elliott. Marlin became the 16th Winston Cup pole winner this season, breaking the NASCAR modern-era record of 15 set in 1982.

Marlin, the Daytona 500 winner, ended a long dry spell with his first pole since the Southern 500 at Darlington in September 1992, a span of 68 races.

"We've been qualifying so bad lately that (team owner) Larry (McClure) is about ready to kill us," Marlin said. "We've been trying to figure it out and trying to figure it out. Maybe this will change it."

It is only the second time in 11 races that Marlin has qualified in the top 10.

Marlin's fast lap came only moments after Rusty Wallace took the top spot with a lap of 129.190.

Wallace, who was knocked out of the Winston Cup championship battle by two straight engine failures, bounced back to take the outside spot on the front row for Sunday's 312-mile race.

Elliott was a solid third at 129.009, followed by Ricky Rudd, last week's pole winner at Rockingham, at 128.981. Dale Jarrett was fifth, defending race winner Mark Martin was sixth, followed by Ken Schrader and series champion Dale Earnhardt.

Brett Bodine and Lake Speed rounded out the top 10.


NHRA Select: Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Darrell Alderman and John Smith led their respective pro categories after the second round of qualifying in Pomona, Calif. Bernstein was No. 1 in top fuel, Force led in funny car, Alderman in pro stock and Smith in pro stock motorcycle. Bernstein moved to the No. 1 spot with a record-setting run of 4.754 seconds, 307.06 mph. His elapsed time was an event record, while his speed was an event and track record.

Herbert steps in: Johnny Herbert will replace injured Jos Verstappen on the Benetton-Ford Formula One team for the final two Grand Prix races of the season in Japan and Australia. Verstappen suffered injuries during the European Grand Prix at Jerez, Spain, 12 days ago and has not recovered sufficiently to drive, the team said.

Benz-McLaren deal: Mercedes-Benz will supply engines for McLaren starting with next year's Formula One season, forming a "dream team" that could include drivers' championship leader Michael Schumacher. The five-year deal was announced in Stuttgart, Germany, three days after McLaren split with Peugeot. Schumacher, who drives for Benetton, has said he would like to drive for a McLaren-Mercedes team. McLaren managing director Ron Dennis confirmed he would like to sign Schumacher for the 1995 season but said 1996 is a more realistic target.

Wendlinger setback: Formula One driver Karl Wendlinger's hopes for a comeback from serious crash injuries suffered a setback. He complained of neck pains during a test drive under race conditions and was taken to a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, for an examination. Wendlinger was treated at the same hospital for severe head injuries after a crash in May at the Monaco Grand Prix. There were no details on the Austrian driver's condition.