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Pole again for Stewart at Phoenix

Tony Stewart knows the drill _ a promising start, a stretch in the lead, and disappointment at the checkered flag.

A budding Indy-car star who always runs well but has not won, Stewart drove a G Force-Aurora to a 170.012-mph lap Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway to take the pole for the Phoenix 200 today.

It was Stewart's second straight pole and third in seven Indy Racing League events.

"You can come up with a million scenarios," he said about his chances today. "They're all good as far as I'm concerned. We just want to win."

Rookie Jim Guthrie ran a 169.484 in a Dallara-Aurora and starts on Stewart's outside. "This engine has 640 miles on it," said Guthrie, whose low-budget Blueprint Racing team can afford just one of the $75,000 Oldsmobile engines and keeps rebuilding it. "I hope we can go 840."

Both racers improved after adjustments following the first hot lap. Stewart's first time lap was 168.036 mph, and Guthrie's was 168.508.

SLICK 50 NATIONALS: Joe Amato and Cruz Pedregon qualified No. 1 for the second straight NHRA national event, setting track records at Houston Raceway Park in Top Fuel and Funny Car.

Other No. 1 qualifiers were Warren Johnson in Pro Stock and Matt Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle, both of whom stayed with their passes from Friday. The final competition is today.

Amato moved to No. 1 by covering the quarter-mile in 4.587 seconds, 316.56 mph. His time and speed were track records, and the time tied for the second quickest in NHRA history. Pedregon took the No. 1 spot in the final session with a track-record 4.941 (308.53) in a Pontiac Firebird owned by former NFL coach Joe Gibbs.