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Ryan Blaney edges Kevin Harvick for Pocono pole

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Ryan Blaney edges Kevin Harvick for Pocono pole
By:
Jun 1, 2018, 9:29 PM

Last year’s race winner is this year’s pole winner at Pocono Raceway.

Ryan Blaney, who earned his first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series one year ago at Pocono, bolted to the top of the speed chart in the final round of qualifying on Friday to claim the pole for Sunday’s Pocono 400.

Blaney’s average lap speed of 176.897 mph was the fastest lap all day and just topped fellow Ford driver Kevin Harvick (176.807 mph). Jamie McMurray ended up third (176.626 mph).

Martin Truex Jr. was fourth and Kyle Busch, who won the pole in both Pocono races last season, had a close call with the wall during his final round lap and ended up fifth.

The rest of the Top 12 were Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon.

The pole is Blaney’s second of the season and fourth of his career.

“It’s nice to be back here at Pocono, it’s been a great track for us, and it’s good to start up front,” Blaney said.

"We made big gains from practice to qualifying and then every round of qualifying. I didn't think we were going to have the speed to contend with Kevin. But we did a great job of making changes to the car. It had the speed in it all along, I just needed to make a clean lap.

"I think five or six of us caught a cloud in the last round and it helped a little bit. I knew we had a better lap and a little bit of improvement on a big track like this can pay big dividends."

Round 2

Harvick completed a sweep of both rounds of qualifying using an average lap speed of 176.236 mph to top the speed chart.

Kyle Busch was second (176.015 mph) and Blaney was third (175.723 mph). Newman was fourth and Elliott completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Kurt Busch, McMurray, Hamlin, Logano, Bowyer and Austin Dillon.

Among those who failed to advance were Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, William Byron, Brad Keselowski, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“We’re working hard and getting better,” said Johnson, who will line up 15th in Sunday’s race.

Round 1

Harvick led a relatively quiet first 15-minute session of knockout qualifying, posting an average lap speed of 175.950 mph to lead the way.

Larson was second (175.805 mph) and Hamlin was third (175.285 mph). Kurt Busch and Blaney completed the top-five.

Bowyer (seventh) and Elliott (eighth) both went out very late in the session after having issues on their initial attempts but both ended up in the Top 10.

All four Hendrick teams ended up in the Top 12.

Among those who failed to advance were Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Chris Buescher, Cole Custer, Ty Dillon and Aric Almirola.

“We were just too free. We didn’t have enough speed to make it to the second round,” Jones said. “If we could go back, we would probably do a second round but I thought we would be fine.”

Almirola got loose on the track during his attempt, which left him with the 34th-fastest lap.

“We had a tire issue and my car was just out of control,” he said. “It’s disappointing but we’ll take it and move on – what else can we do?”

Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 50.877   176.897
2 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 50.903 0.026 176.807
3 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 50.955 0.078 176.626
4 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 50.987 0.110 176.516
5 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 50.998 0.121 176.478
6 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 51.076 0.199 176.208
7 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 51.083 0.206 176.184
8 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 51.176 0.299 175.864
9 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 51.195 0.318 175.798
10 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 51.197 0.320 175.792
11 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 51.361 0.484 175.230
12 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 51.520 0.643 174.689
13 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 51.524 0.647 174.676
14 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 51.579 0.702 174.490
15 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 51.616 0.739 174.365
16 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 51.649 0.772 174.253
17 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 51.661 0.784 174.213
18 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 51.690 0.813 174.115
19 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 51.811 0.934 173.708
20 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 51.833 0.956 173.635
21 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 51.934 1.057 173.297
22 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 52.024 1.147 172.997
23 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 52.182 1.305 172.473
24 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet      
25 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 52.081 1.204 172.808
26 6 united_states Matt Kenseth  Ford 52.140 1.263 172.612
27 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 52.187 1.310 172.457
28 51 united_states Cole Custer  Chevrolet 52.197 1.320 172.424
29 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 52.658 1.781 170.914
30 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 52.703 1.826 170.768
31 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 52.908 2.031 170.107
32 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 53.354 2.477 168.685
33 00 united_states Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 53.477 2.600 168.297
34 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 53.855 2.978 167.115
35 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 53.882 3.005 167.032
36 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 53.927 3.050 166.892
37 7 united_states J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 53.935 3.058 166.868
38 99 united_states Derrike Cope  Chevrolet 54.753 3.876 164.375

 

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Pocono
Location Pocono Raceway
Drivers Ryan Blaney
Teams Team Penske
Author Jim Utter