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NASCAR Cup: Erik Jones on pole for first playoff race

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 14: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, poses with the Busch Pole award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Series South Point Hotel and Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 14, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Erik Jones posted a 28.705-second/188.121 mph lap in the third of three rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday to edge out Joey Logano by 0.003 seconds for the pole starting spot for Sunday’s South Point Hotel & Casino 400, the first race of the 2018 playoffs. It’s Jones’ second-career pole but his first of this season.

“You can’t start them off any better than that,” Jones said. “We’ve got a long way to go this weekend, but we’ve got the speed to do it. Was it maybe unexpected to outsiders or people that aren’t in our group? Probably, but we’ve been consistently setting the bar high. For us, it was not a big surprise to be quick.”

Logano will start second, alongside Jones on the front row.

“Just not quite fast enough,” Logano said. “I hate being what, three-thousandths of a second off. I don’t know what that is in distance on the race track, but it can’t be much. I am proud of the effort everyone has put into this car. We have a good Pennzoil Ford to run here at Vegas. I am excited about that. Just didn’t finish the turn quite good enough. Got into the corner and turned the first part alright, but couldn’t finish the center to the deepest point of the corner. So we will start second and race from there.”

Joe Gibbs Racing claimed three starting spots in the top-two rows, as Jones will have teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch in row two in the third and fourth starting spots. Busch’s top-five starting position came after narrowly advancing beyond the first round of qualifying. He advanced after bettering Regan Smith, substitute for Kasey Kahne, by 0.005 seconds in the opening round.

Kevin Harvick qualified fifth after posting the fastest lap in round one, a lap of 28.605 seconds/188.778 mph. Harvick’s opening-round lap was the fastest lap, overall, of the three-round session.

“It was good,” Harvick said of his third-round lap. “We fought tight the whole time and at the last one I got it in there a little too high in turn one and could never really get it back to the bottom but it was still a good lap.”

Jones led round two with a 28.737-second/187-911 mph lap.

Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon were the lowest qualifying among the 16 playoff drivers, qualifying 17th and 18th, respectively. Other playoff drivers not advancing to the final round, or round of 12, of qualifying were Brad Keselowski in 13th, Clint Bowyer in 14th and Aric Almirola in 16th. Keselowski nearly made the final round, losing out on the final advancement spot by 0.001 seconds to Kurt Busch.

Below, is the complete starting grid for the South Point Hotel & Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

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Posted by on September 15, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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