Blaney Tops 200 mph For Texas Pole, Bowyer to start second

By Toby Christie, Editor — Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie

FORT WORTH, Texas — Ryan Blaney was fast all day on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, and it culminated in a pole position for the 24-year-old driver after a 200.505mph lap in qualifying for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.

Blaney, who drives the No. 12 Ford Fusion for Team Penske, was happy to take the pole position, especially after missing his marks in the second of three rounds of qualifying.

“It felt really fast. That is what you get with this night time qualifying. High speeds. That is really what you get,” Blaney said. “That is cool doing under the lights qualifying. Speeds pick up and it has been cool here today. We have had a really good Ford all day and it is nice to back it up in qualifying. It doesn’t mean a lot if you are fastest in practice and blow it in qualifying. It was cool to be solid all day. Really big thanks to this whole group for giving me a really great race car and I am excited to see how it is in race trim tomorrow,”

This marks Blaney’s fifth pole position in 124 Cup Series attempts, and it is his third pole of 2018.

Playoff contenders Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola will start second thru fourth, while Brad Keselowski rounds out the top-five starters for Sunday’s race.

For Bowyer, he was shocked at how fast the laps felt at Texas.

“That felt fast. After you come off of Martinsville, that little short track and head out here to this place, it just feels crazy fast. I am really proud of my guys. Our Rush Truck Centers Ford was good all day long,” Bowyer said jubilantly. “I am proud of all the guys and proud of the shop for bringing four fast hot rods again. For the better part of the day we were four of the best six or seven cars. That is the speed part. Now we have to make them live and be good on the long run. If we can do that, maybe we can keep ourselves in this thing.”

All Playoff contenders advanced to the final round of qualifying except defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. — who will start 13th — and Chase Elliott — who will start 16th.

Other notables included Trevor Bayne, who could be running his final Cup Series race, in 15th. Jimmie Johnson, who is looking to extend his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to 17 years, will roll from the grid in 23rd.

Obaika Racing will make it’s Cup Series debut as David Starr will roll from the 40th and final starting spot in the No. 97 car.

Here is the full starting lineup for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500:

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Clint Bowyer*
  3. Kevin Harvick*
  4. Aric Almirola*
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Kurt Busch*
  8. Joey Logano**
  9. William Byron
  10. Kyle Busch*
  11. Paul Menard
  12. Erik Jones
  13. Martin Truex Jr.*
  14. Ryan Newman
  15. Trevor Bayne
  16. Chase Elliott*
  17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  18. Alex Bowman
  19. Daniel Suarez
  20. Jamie McMurray
  21. Chris Buescher
  22. Kyle Larson
  23. Jimmie Johnson
  24. Ty Dillon
  25. AJ Allmendinger
  26. Austin Dillon
  27. David Ragan
  28. Regan Smith
  29. Michael McDowell
  30. Bubba Wallace
  31. Matt DiBenedetto
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Ross Chastain
  34. Parker Kligerman
  35. JJ Yeley
  36. Kyle Weatherman
  37. Corey LaJoie
  38. Reed Sorenson
  39. Joey Gase
  40. David Starr

* indicates playoff contenders

** indicates drivers locked in the final four