It turns out the fourth time’s a charm for Ryan Blaney. After three second place stating spots in 2017, Blaney finally scored his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole Friday night. The pole came in his 65th career start, and at the track he made his Cup debut at in 2014, Kansas Speedway.
Blaney made his pole winning lap of 28.481 seconds, 189.60 mph, with just under a minute left in the third and final five-minute round.
“I didn’t know during the first two rounds if we would have enough,” Blaney said. “The 18 and 4 were really fast. We got our car better and better each round and that is what you want. That is what we did. We have improved a lot on that this year. Last year I always thought we kind of got worse, if anything, This year has been a big step up in qualifying.”
The pole is the first for the famed Wood Brothers Racing team since Ricky Rudd took the top spot for the team at Talladega in 2004.
Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kyle Busch who led the first two rounds, took the rest of the top five spots.
“I can think of a couple spots when I dissect it where we could have had more speed,” Logano said. “Congratulations to Blaney. That is cool. Your first pole is a big deal. It is a big deal for him. I just hate being second (laughs).”
While 12 drivers celebrated making it to the final round, 12 drivers watched the entire three rounds of qualifying from the garage. Those 12 teams failed to make it through pre-qualifying inspection by the time the first 20-minute round ended. For the third time this season it was a failed laser inspection station (LIS) that bit most of them. It was the same situation that occurred at both Vegas and Texas.
“This is just, wow. Super disappointing,” said Clint Bowyer one of the drivers who failed to qualify. “You are off ten-thousandths of an inch. It is ridiculous. Most people can’t even understand how little that is. I get it. If you are off, you are off, but I watched my guys move the car and adjust the car accordingly for it and then actually overcompensate on it because we were worried about not making it. Then they wheel it back in and fail the exact same amount? Twice? That makes no sense. None.”
NASCAR’s senior VP of competition, Scott Miller made sense of the situation.
“Competitors are pushing the limit and they’re not making it,” he said. “It’s disappointing to a lot of the competitors, I’m sure that they weren’t able to qualify. But it’s disappointing to us that they aren’t presenting their cars in a way that they’re getting their cars through inspection. Kind of the worst of both worlds, actually.”
Among those who did not qualify, in addition to Bowyer, included three of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillion and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top 12.
With 40 entries, no car was sent home. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway will get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. ET with live coverage on Fox Sports 1.