Blaney drives Toyota to breakthrough pole

Associated Press
Dave Blaney turned in a lap of 129.437 mph to help Toyota win the pole in New Hampshire.

LOUDON, N.H. - Dave Blaney finally gave Toyota something to celebrate Friday, winning the pole for the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

It's been a long, difficult first season in Cup for the Japanese automaker. Its teams have had trouble getting their cars qualified for races, let alone vying for poles.

But Blaney's fast lap of 129.437 mph in his Bill Davis Racing No. 22 Camry was easily the fastest in qualifying for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 300.

"The first pole for Toyota and, hopefully, that's one step in a lot of successful days as far as poles and wins and the whole thing," Blaney said.

"I think we've been making some progress in getting some speed out of the cars; I think all the Toyota teams have.

"Brian Vickers has had some real good runs lately, as well. The Toyota side is definitely making ground like we knew it would."

The news wasn't all good for Toyota, though.

Vickers, who drives for the new Red Bull Racing team and has Toyota's best race finish - fifth last month at Charlotte - had his qualifying lap disallowed when his car failed post-qualifying inspection. Officials said the car was too low on the left side.

That put the Chevrolet of Chad Chaffin in the field and left Toyota with just three of its seven cars in the 43-car lineup.

The other two were Jeremy Mayfield, driving the second Davis entry, and Michael Waltrip Racing rookie David Reutimann.

Along with Vickers, Waltrip, former series champion Dale Jarrett and rookie A.J. Allmendinger failed to make the field.

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