4Th Place Start For Blaney At MIS

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Dave Blaney had his best qualifying session of the Winston Cup season Friday, putting his Amoco Ultimate Dodge in the second row for the Kmart 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Blaney turned a lap of 38.365 seconds (187.671 mph) to qualify fourth behind Jeff Gordon, Mike Skinner and Ricky Rudd.

"It was pretty good, I’m happy," Blaney said after climbing from the car, "we need a good weekend here."

The Amoco team has struggled in recent weeks, suffering a string of mechanical problems. Blaney’s best previous start this season was seventh in Atlanta.

Gordon continued his recent hot streak by winning the pole for Sunday’s race. He topped the Bud Pole qualifying session with a lap of 188.250 mph. He comes to Michigan fresh off his dominating performance at Dover last Sunday.

“That was an incredible lap,” said Gordon who enters the weekend trailing series points leader Dale Jarrett by 50 markers. “It was just a great effort by the whole team, I’m so proud of everyone. The car was a little tight in practice, we loosened it up and were ready to go for qualifying.”

Sunday will be an historic day for Shawna Robinson, who will become the first woman to start a Winston Cup race in more than 10 years. After failing to qualify for the NAPA 500 in Fontana, Calif. earlier this year, Robinson secured a spot at Michigan with a run of 185.529 mph.

“It was a little loose, but that’s how we wanted it,” said Robinson, who will start 32nd in Sunday’s field. “I just can’t thank my team, this crew and these fans for all the support I’ve received in making this dream come true. We want to make this a career and run full-time next season, not just make one race.”

It wasn’t a good day for defending race winner Tony Stewart, who turned in a disappointing lap of 184.091 mph. Fourth in the season standings, Stewart was forced to take a provisional to make Sunday’s race. As expected, Stewart voiced displeasure over the effort.

“We were so off, the car just wouldn’t work through the turns at all,” said Stewart, currently fourth in the season points standings. “We’re going to have to come a long way back to get to the front on Sunday.”

Sunday’s race is the 14th of the season and marks the 63rd Winston Cup Series race held at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway. More than $3.3 million in posted awards are on the line. The K-Mart 400 will be televised live by FOX Sports at 1 p.m. (ET).

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NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2001

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