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NASCAR Cup: Ryan Blaney on pole at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 02: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, poses for a photo after winning the Pole Award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Ryan Blaney claimed his third-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, turning in a 28.200-second/191.489 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying to claim the top starting spot for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400. Blaney’s third-round, pole-winning lap was the fastest lap, overall, through the three-round session.

Blaney was the only driver to make a 191+ mph lap in the final round of qualifying and one of two drivers to make such a fast lap at any point in Friday’s qualifying session. The other was Kevin Harvick, whose 28.259-second/191.090 mph second-round lap was the fastest lap in that round. Blaney also posted a 191+ mph lap in round two.

Harvick was second to Blaney in the third round to claim the other front row starting spot.

“For us, this hasn’t been a track that we’ve qualified well at,” Harvick said. “We’ve always been really good in race trim and felt like that was fine, but qualifying has definitely been a struggle. For us, this is a lot better start to the weekend to get a better pit stall selection and all the things that comes with clean air and running up front. So, hopefully, we can capitalize on that. I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be coming to the green like I needed to. The last round, I nailed it coming to the green and the, obviously the lap time was a lot better. A great starting spot. I’m looking forward in working on our car for race trim.”

Blaney’s pole was the first Cup Series pole for Ford in the first races of 2018 after poles won by Chevrolet and Toyota drivers in the first two races to give each of the three manufacturers a pole in the first three events. Ford claimed the top-three spots on the starting grid at Las Vegas, though, with Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch qualifying third.

“I think it is just fast cars,” Blaney said. “We have always done pretty well here with hitting the setups right. I like this place. It is just a combination of everyone working hard and Ford and three Fords are in the top-three there. That is pretty cool. It just shows the speed we have had all weekend, not just our car, but everybody. Hopefully, we can keep that up, see what our race car is like tomorrow and try to have a good run on Sunday. It would be really nice to get a win here early in the season and get everything started off on the right foot here this first stint before the first break.”

Other top-five qualifiers Friday included Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Truex’s top-five result came despite qualifying on an equalized tire. If his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team opts to change the tire prior to Sunday’s race, Truex will give up his second-row starting spot and start in the back. If his team just changes the inner liner, though, he’ll maintain his position on the starting grid.

Paul Menard was fastest in the opening round with a 28.394-second/190.181 mph lap. He advanced all the way to round three but was the slowest among the 12 in the final round, claiming the 12th starting spot.

Only 37 drivers/cars entered the Pennzoil 400 and made qualifying attempts Friday, so all who entered garnered spots on Sunday’s starting grid.

Below, is the complete starting lineup for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
Row 1 — Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford)
Row 2 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 3 — Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Chase Elliott (No. 9 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 5 — Erik Jones (No. 20 Toyota), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 6 — Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford), Paul Menard (No. 21 Ford)
Row 7 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Michael McDowell (No. 34 Ford), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — William Byron (No. 24 Chevrolet), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 10 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Kasey Kahne (No. 95 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — David Ragan (No. 38 Ford), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 13 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Darrell Wallace Jr. (No. 43 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Aric Almirola (No. 10 Ford), Cole Custer (No. 51 Ford)
Row 16 — Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 17 — Rpss Chastain (No. 15 Chevrolet), Cole Whitt (No. 72 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 00 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Joey Gase (No. 55 Chevrolet)

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Posted by on March 3, 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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