Dave Blaney, piloting the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge, won the pole for The NEXTEL Open with a lap of 185.058 mph. Blaney went out at the tail end of the qualifying session, surprising the field by knocking Casey Mears out of the...
Dave Blaney, piloting the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge, won the pole for The NEXTEL Open with a lap of 185.058 mph. Blaney went out at the tail end of the qualifying session, surprising the field by knocking Casey Mears out of the top-spot.
"We tested good here a few weeks ago." said Blaney. "These guys have had a good car for me almost every time out. We felt pretty good coming out. We were really surprised at the times, those are pretty fast times for here."
Casey Mears had to settle for second with a lap of 184.527 mph.
"That was a great lap for us," said Mears. "We thought we had it until Blaney went out. Good for them."
Jamie McMurray, Jeremy Mayfield and Ward Burton complete the top five qualifiers of the 25 cars that made time-trial efforts.
"It was pretty good," said Burton. "The guys did a great job. A little better than we tested."
The NEXTEL Open Saturday night consists of thirty laps, broken into two segments of 20 and 10 laps.
Time trials for the All-Star Challenge were a little more complicated than the two-lap fastest lap time-trials for the NEXTEL Open. All-Star Challenge qualifying consisted of a three-lap segment and a mandatory four-tire pit stop, placing the burden of qualifying more on the shoulder of the crew guys than during a normal qualifying session for the Cup teams.
A lightning quick pit stop by the No. 2 Penske Dodge team helped propel Rusty Wallace to The NEXTEL All-Star Challenge pole. "That was great," said Wallace. "My car handled perfect, and then they gave me a 12.4 pit stop. Just awesome."
Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart complete the top- five field of 22 cars.
"It was a good effort." Kenseth said. "My guys did a great job, just a little problem getting on and off pit road."
Eight of the best qualifying cars exceeded the pit road speed of 45 mph and were penalized. Those cars included Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon and Kasey Kahne. The mistake will cost all eight drivers from having top-five starts.
Eligibility to race in the All-Star event is based on five factors. A minimum field of 20 cars is comprised of winners from previous races in the preceding and current years; any active driver who has been crowned Cup series champion; any winner of a previous All-Star race; the winner of the NEXTEL Open; and the winner of the NEXTEL fan vote.
The latter two (Open Winner & fan vote) will start at the rear of the field after qualifying positions are set.