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Jeff Gordon is losing the only crew chief he has had in his Winston Cup career.

CNN-SI reported Friday that Ray Evernham is quitting after helping Gordon win three championships in the last four seasons.

The network, citing no sources, said Evernham will act as Gordon's crew chief at Sunday's MNBA Gold 400, but mechanic Brian Whitesell will make the race-day calls. Whitesell will replace Evernham when he leaves, perhaps before the end of the season.

Evernham and John Hendrick, the head of Hendrick Motorsports, had no comment when asked about the report Friday at Dover Downs International Speedway. The company plans an announcement next month concerning Gordon's team.

"The plan all along has been to take our guys and step them up in our program," Gordon said. "That's been Ray's wishes. It looked like things were going to be taking place anyway, and we are basically stepping into a little of that right now. We're still trying to figure out how everything is going to shake out."

Evernham has helped Gordon win 47 Winston Cup races. For months, there have been reports of friction between Evernham and the Hendrick organization. His contract runs through the 2006 season, but CNN-SI said a release is being negotiated.

Rusty Wallace will occupy the top spot Sunday after winning his second straight pole -- with a track-record run Friday at 159.964 mph. He's after his second victory of the season.

In winning his fourth pole of the season and 26th of his career, Wallace broke Bobby Labonte's track record of 159.320, set in June for the MBNA Platinum 400. Labonte had a very poor run Friday and will start 20th.

But he fared far better than Dale Jarrett, whom he trails by 254 points in the Winston Cup standings. Jarrett brushed the wall during his run, and was only 38th of 48 cars attempting to qualify. He will have to get in the field today.

Defending MBNA Gold 200 champion Matt Kenseth won the second pole of his NASCAR Busch series career with a record-setting qualifying effort. Kenseth, who trails defending series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 103 points with six of 32 races remaining, hustled his Chevrolet around The Monster Mile at 155.293 mph. Today's Busch race will be televised by TNN at 1 p.m.

Around the tracks

* Juan Montoya, a 23-year-old rookie from Colombia, took the provisional pole in the opening round of qualifying for Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. Montoya, who has a 28-point lead over runner-up Dario Franchitti, would wrap up the title if he comes away ahead by 44 or more.

* Sam Schmidt was the fastest driver in both practice sessions for Sunday's 500 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his Sprint PCS car with a G Force chassis, the Las Vegas resident turned a fast lap of 208.849 mph in the morning and went 207.876 mph later in the day. Greg Ray had the day's second-best speed at 208.631 mph in the morning session.

* Mika Hakkinen, the defending Formula One champion, drove his McLaren-Mercedes to the fastest time in free practice for Sunday's European Grand Prix in Nuerburgring, Germany. Hakkinen and Eddie Irvine are tied atop the driver's standings at 60 points, with three races left in the season. A victory, worth 10 points, would give either driver a significant lead before the title is decided in the final two races -- in Malaysia Oct. 17 and Japan Oct. 31.

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