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Qualifying report
NASCAR Cup Richmond

Ryan Blaney takes Richmond Cup pole over Byron

From road courses to short tracks, Ryan Blaney continues to lead the way in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford Mustang

For second consecutive week and third time this season, Blaney put down the fastest average lap speed in qualifying. His lap Saturday at 119.782 mph puts him on pole for Sunday’s race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

Blaney has now started second or better in four straight races. The pole is the ninth of his career.

“This means a lot, you know,” Blaney said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I got a very good lap. It was kind of an ugly lap on my end but I did have speed.

“Track position means a lot here. With my past history here, I can use all the track position I can get. It’s a great start to the weekend. We just need to keep it up and keep the tires under this thing and we’ll see what tomorrow holds.”

William Byron ended up second-fastest (119.585 mph) and Kyle Busch was third (119.290 mph). Chase Briscoe and Erik Jones round out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 starters in Sunday’s race: Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Aric Almiola.

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Round 1 / Group B

Chastain, the last driver to make a qualifying attempt in Group B, went right to the top on his first lap, taking the top spot with an average speed of 120.757 mph.

Harvick ended up second (120.606 mph) and Bell was third (120.310 mph). Truex was fourth and Almirola fifth – and the last to advance to Round 2.

“The lap felt pretty good. I think we can make some tweaks and get faster and hopefully do the same things tomorrow,” Truex said.

Among those who failed to advance to Round 2 were Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez.

Round 1 / Group A

Blaney needed only one lap to bolt to the top of the first group of qualifying with an average lap speed of 120.364 mph.

Jones ended up second (120.310 mph) and Kyle Busch – who was fastest overall in practice – was third (120.224 mph). Briscoe and Byron rounded out the top-five.

“I feel I still have a lot to learn. I’m kind of surprised of how well we’ve been so far,” Briscoe said. “We’ll see how it works out tomorrow.”

Among those failing to advance to Round 2 were Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace.

Due to failing pre-qualifying inspection three times each, both Justin Haley and Greg Biffle were not allowed to qualify.

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