Sunday, October 7, 2007

Waltrip wins pole; Kurt Busch, Ragan fail inspection

TALLADEGA, Ala. - To say that Toyota teams dominated qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway Saturday would clearly be an understatement.

Michael Waltrip won the pole with a lap of 189.070 mph in his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Dave Blaney followed in his Bill Davis Racing Toyota. Toyota drivers took four of the top five spots.

Team Red Bull driver and defending race winner Brian Vickers qualified third. Joe Nemechek (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet), David Reutimann (No. 00 MWR), Jacques Villeneuve (No. 27 BDR Toyota), John Andretti (BAM Racing Dodge) and Dale Jarrett (MWR Toyota) all qualified in the top eight. Jarrett will start 43rd by virtue of being the last to qualify of the drivers who were outside the top 35 in owners points.

Of course, that is partially due to the fact that the Toyota teams are all outside the top 35 in owners points and are forced to qualify based on speed for the UAW-Ford 500. Still, this session was an exercise in dominance. The top eight have not participated in the drafting aspects of the practice, for the most part, instead focusing on qualifying.

Team Red Bull's AJ Allmendinger, No Fear Racing's Boris Said and Vaolvoline Evernham Racing's Scott Riggs were in the top 11 in overall qualifying times, but each failed to make the race since the top eight drivers were also in the position of needing to make the race.

"I felt confident yesterday that we would make the race," Waltrip said. "I really didn't think about the pole. The two runs I got in the final practice were both wind-aided. We didn't really know what we had. Our qualifying lap was faster than what we ran in practice.

"If I only had to worry about my car, I would've been happier. But, I had to worry about Dale and David making the race, too. It is more important for me to have all three cars in. For me to be first is a bonus. To have all three cars in the race is very gratifying."

Meanwhile, the cars of Penske Racing's Kurt Busch and Roush Fenway Racing's David Ragan failed postrace inspection for being too low in the front. Their times will be disallowed, forcing them to start at the rear Sunday.

Drivers competing in The Chase For The Nextel Cup didn't fare well either, though each pointed out that qualifying doesn't mean that much on this 2.66-mile restrictor-plate track.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart was fastest among the Chase drivers and will start 11th. Martin Truex Jr. (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) starts 13th, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin (18th), Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson (19th), Richard Childress Racing's Jeff BUrton (21st), RCR's Clint Bowyer (23rd), Roush Fenway Racing's Matt Kenseth (25th), Roush Fenway's Carl Edwards (31st), Hendrick's Jeff Gordon (34th), Kyle Busch (36h) and RCR's Kevin Harvick (37th). Busch drops to the back and will start 41st.

Said, Riggs, Allmendinger, Penske Racing's Sam Hornish, Morgan-McClure Motorsports Ward Burton, Front Row Motorsports Kevin Lepage, Phoenix Racing's Sterling Marlin and Bill Davis Racing's Jeremy Mayfield failed to make the race.

The UAW-Ford 500 is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. EDT Sunday.

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