CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Building on the momentum from last weekend's promising performance in The Winston Open, Dave Blaney was a fixture at the top of the leader-boards for both the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series during the rain-delayed practice...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Building on the momentum from last weekend's promising performance in The Winston Open, Dave Blaney was a fixture at the top of the leader-boards for both the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series during the rain-delayed practice and qualifying sessions at Lowe's Motor Speedway, leading a full day of fulfilling results for the Jasper Motorsports program.
Showing definitive signs of returning to the mid-March form that propelled him to a career-best third-place finish at Darlington, Blaney--fifth quickest in practice--tied Joe Nemechek for the seventh-fastest time (29.471 secs.) in qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 at LMS behind pole winner Ryan Newman (29.140 secs.). And after registering the eighth-best practice time in a limited pre-qualifying session, Blaney tied with Damon Lusk for the tenth-fastest time (29.860 secs.) behind pole-winner Kevin Harvick (29.277 secs.) in Busch Series qualifying for the CarQuest Auto Parts 300.
Blaney's WC qualifying effort in the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford was his best qualifying effort since winning his first career WC pole position earlier this season at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. and his second straight WC career-best qualifying effort (in seven WC starts) at LMS (14th for the CC-600 last May) after joining the Jasper Motorsports team prior to the 2002 season.
A two-time former Busch Series pole-winner and track-record holder at LMS, Blaney earned the 11th-place starting spot for the Busch event in only his third overall start (second in 2003) in the #31 Whelen Ford, bringing Penske-Jasper Engines back to the Busch Series for the first race since Ryan Newman torched both the Busch and ARCA Series events during his lead-in season (2001) prior to last year's outstanding WC rookie success.
Newman's pole-winning lap for his third pole position of the season was .15-seconds quicker than second-place Elliott Sadler, and was the fifth overall pole for Penske-Jasper Engines in 12 races this season, including Jeremy Mayfield's fast-time at Talladega in April and Blaney's NCS pole in March.
In the ARCA Series race that preceded all NASCAR on-track activity at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Jeff Fultz--the 2002 NASCAR All-Pro Series champion and full-time Jasper Motorsports team member--started 34th and moved steadily through the field in the 67-lap event, falling just short of defending his win of May, 2002 at LMS in the same event.
On the race's final restart with nine laps to go, Fultz lined up behind then-leader Clay Rogers while defending series champion Frank Kimmel loomed in third. Rogers spun his wheels at the drop of the flag and was slow to come up to speed while Kimmel ducked beneath both front-runners and sped the front, never to be caught. Fultz did challenge the leader late but settled for second while Rogers ran out of gas on the final lap.