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NASCAR Cup: Ryan Blaney on COTA pole

AVONDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 13: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Maytag Ford, stands on the grid prior to the Ruoff Mortgage 500 during at Phoenix Raceway on March 13, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


Ryan Blaney’s Saturday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, went from bad to good. After hitting a barrier in practice, he posted a 92.759-second/132.343 mph lap in the second and final round of NASCAR Cup Series qualifying to claim the pole for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.

“Talk about an up and down day, for sure, putting it in the barriers on my third lap of practice and not knowing if the car was killed or if we had to go to a backup or what it would take to fix it,” Blaney said. “It ripped my left side mirror off right when I hit the barriers, so I couldn’t see the left side of the car when I was coming back to the pits, and I didn’t know how bad the damage was. I knew my wheel was straight and I had flat spots, but I got out of the car and looked at it, and it scuffed it up but it was nothing too bad. They went through everything thoroughly and looked at stuff and nothing was bent. We got really lucky, honestly, right there, from a mistake of mine. Really lucky I hit those plastic blocks or whatever they are. We should put those things everywhere. Then, to go out and have speed to put it on the pole. I didn’t know if we were even going to be able to qualify when I wrecked, and to be able to come back and have a fast enough car to make it to the second round and, then, get a good lap in during the final round and barely beat Daniel (Suarez), there, that was really fun. Yeah, an up and down day, and it is nice to end it on a high note.”

Blaney will share row two of Sunday’s starting grid with Daniel Suarez. Cole Custer qualified third, Tyler Reddick fourth and Alex Bowman fifth.

“Honestly, I just love road course racing,” Suarez said ahead of qualifying. “I find it fascinating. I find it fun. I find it different. I grew up racing go-karts. I never actually raced big cars on road course tracks. A little in NASCAR in Mexico, but not much. But I just enjoy it a lot. I feel that I’ve always been strong at it, but I’ve never been super strong. I have a lot of faith that this car is going to make that difference. I’m excited for that. I’m excited to find that out and see where we can do it. Right now, I don’t think anyone is the favorite because everything is new. Here in a couple of hours, we’re going to find out a lot about who has the speed and who doesn’t.”

Blaney was fifth among the first group of round one, making him the last driver of the group to advance to the final round. Custer was fastest among group one in round one with a 93.119-second/131.832 mph lap. Other drivers advancing to the second round from group one included Austin Cindric, Justin Haley and Denny Hamlin.

Before ultimately claiming a front-row starting spot, Suarez posted the fastest lap among the second group of drivers in the opening round — a 93.150-second/131.787 mph lap. He led a group that included Reddick, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano and Bowman in advancing to the final round of qualifying.

Logano, Bell, Hamlin, Haley and Cindric qualified sixth through 10th.

Below is the starting lineup for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix:

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Posted by on March 26, 2022. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.