Ryan Blaney rockets to Las Vegas pole

Ryan Blaney spoiled Kevin Harvick’s party Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  With just over a minute to go the final five minutes Blaney put down a lap of 28.200, 191.489 miles per hour around the 1.5-mile speedway to win the pole for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Pennzoil 400.

“I thought our Ford was pretty good over three rounds,” Blaney said. “The second and third round were really good. They made really good changes to our race car and got us where we needed to be. It is nice to know we have some good speed and now it is about getting it racing well. We will work on that tomorrow. Hopefully we will be set up for Sunday.”

The lap was the fastest of the day and came at the expense of Harvick who had the provisional pole after putting down the first lap in the final session and had the fastest lap in the second round.

“I knew I kind of blew it coming to the green,” Harvick said. “I had to lift off the throttle late around the corner just trying to get to the green and I wound up getting the car too tight and it was where it was needed to be the rest of the lap, on the edge. All in all it was a great qualifying effort. This isn’t a place we have qualified well in the past. That will definitely help our day on Sunday.”

The pole was the third of Blaney’s career and his first since Phoenix last November. Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch will start third, Martin Truex Jr. who had an equalized right front tire that will need mending prior to Sunday was fourth.

“I had no idea, to be honest,” Truex said of his tire. “They did such a good of trying to make up for it and figure out how to set the air pressure. At the end of the day I’m sure it was not helping us to get the car right, because for whatever reason that last run we got really tight in turn three. I don’t know if that had something to do with it or if it was just our adjustments. For the guys to overcome that and get faster each round, it was a really good effort.”

Kyle Larson who led Friday’s lone practice session will start fifth.

Chase Elliott took the only Hendrick Motorsports car into the final round and will start 6, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. seventh, last years pole winner Brad Keselowski eighth, Erik Jones ninth and Joey Logano put the third Team Penske car inside the top 10. Clint Bowyer will start 11th with Paul Menard, who led Round 1 starting 12th.

Jimmie Johnson showed slight improvement making it to the second round of qualifying. He was the highest of the remaining Hendrick cars and will start 14th; teammate William Byron starts 17th, Alex Bowman 20th.

“We are getting better each time out,” Johnson said.  “Of course, we want to be in the third round, but it’s just a fraction of an inch from getting that.  Wanted more for sure, but we are learning and getting smarter every time on track.”

Other notables: Bubba Wallace starts 26th, just behind Ryan Newman who started on the front row a week ago at Atlanta.

With 37 entries for 40 spots, no team was sent home.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will get the green flag just after 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday with live coverage on Fox.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.