KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Ryan Blaney zoomed to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway.
Blaney clocked a lap of 189.600 mph with the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford on the 1.5-mile track. The 23-year-old driver’s first career Coors Light Pole in the Monster Energy Series was the first for the Wood Brothers’ team since April 2004, when Ricky Rudd qualified first at Talladega Superspeedway.
“This year has been a big step up in qualifying,” said Blaney, in his second full season driving for the storied racing team. “Your car and track changes and you have to be on top of that. Everyone has done a great job of staying on top of that. We have been really close a couple times this year but it feels good to get it done.
“I know it is only qualifying but it feels really cool to get this first pole. It says a lot about this entire team.”
Joey Logano logged the second-fastest lap, registering a speed of 189.540 mph in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford, which shares a technical alliance with the Wood Brothers operation. Logano lamented losing ground to Blaney exiting Turns 2 and 4 on his final qualifying lap, but lauded his fellow Ford driver’s accomplishment.
“Congratulations to Blaney. That is cool,” Logano said. “Your first pole is a big deal. It is a big deal for him. I just hate being second. I have to be honest.”
Martin Truex Jr, the pole-starter here last spring, was third-fastest in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota at 189.201 mph. He’ll start alongside fourth-fastest Ricky Stenhouse Jr., last weekend’s first-time winner at Talladega, in Row 2.
Kyle Busch, the defending race winner and the fastest driver in final practice, completed the top five in the three-round knockout qualifying session.
Issues in pre-qualifying technical inspection forced 11 drivers to miss the opening 20-minute session. The full list of those not attempting a qualifying lap: Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Erik Jones, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Landon Cassill, Reed Sorenson, Corey LaJoie, Timmy Hill and Carl Long.
A 12th driver, Michael McDowell, missed qualifying because of engine trouble.
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