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No shortage of scripts at the Glen

A day after Jimmie Johnson continued his feud with Kurt Busch with some track smack talk, Busch responded.

Kyle Busch broke an eight-year-old track qualifying record -- and so did 14 other cars. Road racers put themselves in position to disrupt the race for the Sprint Cup's postseason, last week's gutsy winner and his broken ankle prepared for a much tougher test, and there's an angry Tasmanian ready to race to the front.

And you thought the name of the race was a mouthful.

For today's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, there is no shortage of storylines.

Here's a row-by-row look at who will take to the twists and turns of the 2.45-mile road course today (1 p.m., ESPN, 550, 1340) as the NASCAR Sprint Cup makes its annual stop at the historic track high above the southern tip of Seneca Lake:

*Row 1: Kyle Busch won the pole with a lap of 69.767 seconds (126.421 mph), surpassing the mark set by Jeff Gordon (70.7979 seconds, 124.58 mph) in 2003. Today's pace promises to be brisk as Busch was joined by the rest of the top 15 in beating Gordon's mark.

Busch had "last licks" in the qualifying session, as his top practice time left him as the last driver to take to the track. He beat out A.J. Allmendinger by about two-tenths of a second.

Allmendinger, a strong road racer who had just earned the top spot two drivers before, is one of several drivers who have given themselves a shot of impacting the race to the 10-race postseason. With five races to go before the cutoff, Allmendinger is 17th in points.

But -- like a handful of drivers -- a win could potentially vault him into contention under this year's new wild-card format, in which the final two drivers of the 12-car postseason field will get in based who has the most wins.

A door might have been opened for Allmendinger and others by Denny Hamlin, who spun during qualifying and will start way back in 42nd. Hamlin currently holds the 12th and final postseason spot due to his one victory and his point total (11th best).

*Row 2: Marcos Ambrose is a native of Tasmania who starts third and might have even more motivation than usual to do well at the Glen. The Australian, who has finished third, second and third in his Cup starts here, was unable to race in Saturday's Nationwide event -- which he had won three straight times -- after not being able to secure a deal.

When asked about his plans for Saturday he said: "I'm going to go fishing I don't want to watch someone win my race."

Starting fourth is Johnson, who continued his complaints regarding rival Kurt Busch Friday at the Glen.

"When you are in that moment [on pit road at Pocono with Busch], and you're having words with someone and as the crowd starts to build around, that guy all of a sudden gets brave and when you think it's over and you walk away and that guy gets real tough that really makes me mad. Bottom line, he just started running his mouth."

*Row 3: Juan Pablo Montoya, currently 21st in points, starts fifth. Montoya won the race here last year and the former open-wheel star needs the same result if he wants to make any kind of a late push for a postseason spot.

*Row 5: Regan Smith, the upstate New York native from the Syracuse-area town of Cato, posted his best qualifying spot on a road course as he'll start 10th.

*Row 6: Brad Keselowski remarkably won at Pocono last week despite a broken ankle suffered in testing less than a week before.

But that was on an oval track, in which the only significant discomfort he described was in braking when coming to the pits. With 11 turns and varying elevations at the Glen, Keselowski's task is much tougher today. He did not race in Saturday's Nationwide in order to rest.

"Driving is obviously hell on [the ankle]," he said. "Obviously you brake harder and more often. [My back] hurts more going over those bumps than anything else. Every time that I hop one of those curbs it's just like falling out of your chair. It doesn't feel good. I'm trying really hard not to build in an excuse to not run good this weekend. We have a fast car, so you just have to grit your teeth and bear it."

*Row 8: With many drivers yearing for a win in the wild-card standings, Boris Said could disrupt things. Said starts 15th and he owns finishes of eighth and third as a Cup sub.

*Row 14: Kurt Busch, who dominated the Nationwide race Saturday as he subbed for Keselowski, admitted some missteps on his Cup qualifying lap and will start 27th. Earlier Saturday, he had a chance to respond to Johnson's comments.

"It's great," Busch said when asked about Johnson's comments. "It means that I'm in his head and if I'm in his head, he's got to worry about us running through this Chase."

*Row 19: Another familiar face at the Glen is Toronto's Ron Fellows, a road racing ace who uncharacteristically had a bobble during his lap and will start 38th. But he's made his way from the back of the pack before in earning two seconds and five top 10s.

*Row 22: The last spot in the field, one spot behind Hamlin, went to 54-year-old Terry Labonte due to a past champion's provisional. The three drivers who failed to make the race were Dave Blaney, Brian Simo and P.J. Jones.

Before the 43 cars can start their engines, Mother Nature may trump them all. Forecasts late Saturday called for thunderstorms and an 80 percent chance of rain. The Cup race was postponed for the first time in history here in 2009 with Tony Stewart winning on Monday.

Considering the possibility of a day off, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked if he had any plans just in case.

"No, not really," he said. "I don't know where to go here."

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com