NASCAR: Blaney Recovers from Spin to Claim Pole at COTA

Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney will start from pole position in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – becoming the first multi-time pole winner of the 2022 season. It’s his second pole this year and eighth in his career.

Blaney’s lap of 92.759 mph around the 3.41-mile road course in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford held up to a late session charge by Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez, who edged Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer for the outside of the front row but was still just .026-seconds off Blaney’s fastest lap.

“I wouldn’t really say I’m a great road course racer by any means, I enjoy road courses a lot but never been in great contention to win one,” Blaney said, adding, “So I would say I’m an average road course racer. And honestly what made me happy about the pole was that we were fifth in our [first round] group and barely made the Round of 10 and then picked up half a second from first round, so I was as proud we picked up that speed.”

Custer will start third, lining up alongside Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick. Hendrick Motorsports’ driver Alex Bowman, Penske’s Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley and Penske rookie Austin Cindric rounded out the Top-10 in final qualifying.

It was quite the day’s comeback for Blaney, 28, who went off course and hit the soft barriers during opening practice but was able to rebound to the top position when it mattered most.

“Talk about an up and down day for sure, from putting it in the barriers on my third lap and not knowing if the car was killed, if we would have to go to a back-up, what it was going to take to fix it,” Blaney said, noting the incident with the barriers knocked his left-side mirrors off, preventing him from being able to really see the damage on the left side.

“I got out of the car and looked at it and it was scuffed up but not too bad,” he said. “They went through everything thoroughly and nothing was bent so got really lucky, honestly from a mistake of mine. Really lucky we hit those plastic blocks.

“And then to have speed to put it on the pole, I didn’t even know if we were going to be able to qualify after we wrecked so to come back and have a fast enough car to make it to the second round and then the final round and barely beat Daniel there was fun.

“Up and down day, glad it ended on a high note.”

Notably absent from the final 10-car round were defending COTA race winner Chase Elliott, who was 12th fastest in qualifying. His reigning series champion Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson was 13th fastest.

Kyle Busch, a four-time road course winner, was only 15th fastest qualifying lap and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. – another four-time road course winner – was only 17th fastest. Road course ace A.J. Allmendinger was 20th – fast in practice but having a hiccup in qualifying.

“Talk about an up and down day,” Blaney said. “From putting it in the barriers my third lap and not knowing if the car was killed. I didn’t really know how bad the damage was; I knew the wheel was straight and the tires were flat-spotted. (The team) went through it thoroughly and nothing was bent. I was really lucky.”

During his post-qualifying media availability, Blaney said he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to qualify after he hit in practice and hit the soft wall. But the team recovered and narrowly edged out Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez by 0.026 seconds for the top spot heading into Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix. Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman round out the top five finishers in qualifying.

Apart from recovering from his spin in practice, Blaney said he was impressed with the team’s efforts to make the car better during each round of group qualifying.

Qualifying Results

Pos No. Driver Team Time Speed
1 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford 132.343s 92.759
2 99 Daniel Suarez CommScope Chevrolet 132.369s 92.741
3 41 Cole Custer One Cure Ford 132.471s 92.669
4 8 Tyler Reddick 3CHI Chevrolet 132.552s 92.613
5 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet 132.656s 92.540
6 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 132.892s 92.376
7 20 Christopher Bell DeWalt Toyota 132.912s 92.362
8 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 133.051s 92.265
9 31 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 133.566s 91.910
10 2 Austin Cindric # Discount Tire Ford 133.94s 91.653
11 45 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Toyota 132.669s 92.531
12 9 Chase Elliott Llumar Chevrolet 132.698s 92.511
13 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 132.698s 92.511
14 14 Chase Briscoe Mahindra Tractors Ford 132.782s 92.452
15 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Lime is Back Toyota 132.790s 92.447
16 1 Ross Chastain ONX Homes/iFly Chevrolet 132.801s 92.439
17 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 132.994s 92.305
18 4 Kevin Harvick GEARWRENCH Ford 133.164s 92.187
19 21 Harrison Burton # Freightliner Ford 133.263s 92.119
20 16 AJ Allmendinger(i) Action Industries Chevrolet 133.297s 92.095
21 3 Austin Dillon Bennett Chevrolet 133.352s 92.057
22 17 Chris Buescher Fifth Third Bank Ford 133.356s 92.054
23 23 Bubba Wallace leidos Toyota 133.682s 91.830
24 24 William Byron Chevrolet 133.922s 91.665
25 10 Aric Almirola Rush/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford 134.137s 91.518
26 6 Brad Keselowski Wyndham Rewards Ford 134.149s 91.510
27 34 Michael McDowell Love’s Travel Stops Ford 134.164s 91.500
28 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Chevrolet 134.255s 91.438
29 38 Todd Gilliland # Boot Barn Ford 134.324s 91.391
30 43 Erik Jones FOCUSfactor Chevrolet 134.411s 91.332
31 50 Kaz Grala(i) Pit Viper Sunglasses Chevrolet 134.476s 91.288
32 7 Corey LaJoie Schluter Systems Chevrolet 134.492s 91.277
33 42 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 134.531s 91.250
34 77 Josh Bilicki(i) Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet 135.307s 90.727
35 51 Cody Ware Nurtec ODT Ford 135.584s 90.542
36 27 Loris Hezemans(i) Hezeberg Systems Ford 135.660s 90.491
37 66 Boris Said Ford 138.038s 88.932
38 15 Joey Hand Ford Pass Rewards Visa Ford 0 0
39 78 Andy Lally(i) Ford 0 0