LAS VEGAS – Ryan Blaney continued his consistent start to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season by capturing the pole for the Pennzoil 400 Friday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Blaney earned the third pole of his career and his first for Team Penske with an impressive 28.200-second lap at 191.489 mph aboard the No. 12 Pennzoil/Menards Ford during the third and final round of qualifying at the 1.5-mile high-banked asphalt oval.
“They (his team) did a great job adjusting me round to round. That’s so important. I think our team does such a good job getting us better each round,” Blaney said. “We definitely did that. Really cool to have a lot of speed in our Menards/Pennzoil Ford Fusion.
“Cool to get our first pole of the season. Hopefully our car will be good in race trim tomorrow and come Sunday.”
The 24-year-old Blaney and the rest of the field battled strong wind gusts throughout the three rounds of qualifying, but Blaney was able to overcome the wind to capture the pole for Sunday’s race.
“The wind was crazy. It kept blowing you around into (turn) three,” Blaney said. “It was just gusty. I felt like I got blown off into turn three pretty bad (in round one). Then in the second round I didn’t really fell bad. It didn’t gust hard there. It was just kind of random. Luckily for the last one we didn’t get a big gust of wind or anything I could feel and we were able to pull off a pretty decent lap.”
Kevin Harvick, who won last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway and was fastest in the second round of qualifying with a 28.259-second lap, gave Ford a sweep of the front row with a 28.384-second lap at 190.248 mph in the final round of qualifying.
“I needed the coming to the green lap in the second round,” Harvick said when asked where he lost time on his final qualifying attempt. “I had to lift pretty late. I got the front tires chattering coming off the corner there. The rest of the lap was OK, it was a little bit free but it was very manageable. When it starts pushing like that you’ve got to left off so it doesn’t get out of the groove.”
Kurt Busch continued the Ford trend at the front of the field by qualifying third behind his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Harvick. Martin Truex Jr. qualified fourth despite having an equalized tire on his Furniture Row Racing Toyota, with Kyle Larson qualifying fifth.
The rest of the top dozen included Chase Elliott in sixth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard, who was fastest in round one with 28.394-second lap.
Kyle Busch was the first car who failed to advance to the final round of qualifying, followed closely by Jimmie Johnson. They’ll start 13th and 14th on Sunday. Other notables include Austin Dillon in 16th, William Byron in 17th, Denny Hamlin in 19th, Alex Bowman in 20th, Ryan Newman in 25th, Darrell Wallace Jr. in 26th and Aric Almirola in 29th.
Only 37 cars attempted to qualify for the 40-car field.