Blaney claims pole

LAS VEGAS — Ryan Blaney claimed the pole Friday night for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Blaney earned his third career pole with a lap at 191.489 mph in his Team Penske Ford, easily outdistancing Kevin Harvick on a windy evening.

Blaney blazed through the final round of knockout qualifying for his first pole of the young season and his first since late last year in Phoenix. The 24-year-old is off to a solid start to the season with a seventh-place finish at Daytona, and he’ll be in prime position in Vegas to record his second career victory.

“I thought our car was pretty good, but I didn’t know if we had pole speed,” Blaney said. “We made really good changes between practice and qualifying, and really good changes throughout qualifying. … That’s really all you can ask for. I think our team does such a good job of getting better round to round. That’s so huge now with the three rounds. That’s something we’ve been working really hard on for the last couple of years, and it’s paying off.”

Harvick kept up his outstanding start to the season and secured a front-row Ford lockout with a second-place finish in qualifying for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400. The Stewart-Haas Racing stalwart earned his best starting position in 18 career races in Vegas by turning a lap at 190.248 mph.

Fords claimed the top three spots and five of the first eight. Las Vegas native Kurt Busch qualified right behind Harvick at 190.067 mph in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, while Martin Truex Jr. drove his Furniture Row Racing Toyota into fourth.

“Three Fords in the top three there, that’s pretty cool,” Blaney said.


n Kyle Busch won his hometown NASCAR Truck race Friday night for his 50th victory in the series.