Ryan Blaney Earns First-Career Cup Pole

Ryan Blaney
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Improving in each round of knockout qualifying in relation to other cars, Ryan Blaney won the pole for Saturday night's Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1), claiming his first career pole by a mere 0.009 seconds over Joey Logano.

During a Friday qualifying session in which 11 cars failed to make it to the grid because of inspection issues, Blaney toured the 1.5-mile speedway in 28.481 seconds (189.600 mph) in the final round to earn the first Coors Light Pole Award for the No. 21 Woods Brothers Ford since Ricky Rudd earned the top starting spot at Talladega in April 2004.

Before that, the last Wood Brothers pole came in 1984 at Atlanta, with Buddy Baker behind the wheel.

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick finished 1-2 in the first two rounds of time trials-with Busch posting the fastest lap of the day at 190.624 mph in the second round-but Blaney was fastest when it counted, on his third run on tires.

"I didn't know during the first two rounds if we would have enough," said Blaney, who will lead the field to green in the 11th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. "The 18 (Busch) and 4 (Harvick) were really fast. We got our car better and better each round, and that's what you want. That's what we did. We have improved a lot on that this year. Last year I always thought we kind of got worse, if anything.

"This year has been a big step up in qualifying. Your car and the track change, and you have to be on top of that. We've been really close a couple times this year, but it feels good to get it done. I know it's only qualifying, but it feels really cool to get this first pole. It says a lot about this entire team."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] Martin Truex Jr. qualified third, followed by last week's Talladega winner, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Busch slipped to fifth in the final round, and Harvick fell to eighth.

Among the 11 drivers whose cars failed to pass the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) were seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones, who spun through the infield grass during Friday's opening practice.

A native of nearby Emporia, Kan., Bowyer was bitterly disappointed in not being able to qualify in front of his home crowd.

"This is just-wow!-super disappointing," Bowyer said. "You're off ten-thousandths of an inch. It's ridiculous. Most people can't even understand how little that is. I get it. If you are off, you are off, but I watched my guys move the car and adjust the car accordingly for it and then actually overcompensate on it, because we were worried about not making it.

"Then they wheel it back in and fail the exact same amount? Twice? That makes no sense. None."

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney

But as NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller pointed out, 28 cars made it through inspection in time to qualify.

"It's fairly disappointing that they can't present their cars to pass inspection," Miller said of the cars that failed. "There were 28 cars that did pass inspection, so it's certainly possible to get it right.

"It's the LIS, where we measure the rear steer of the car, which is a big performance metric. It's something that everybody pushes to try to get right to the limit. They want to be right on the limit, and obviously, 11 of them were over the limit."

A 12th car, the No. 95 Chevrolet of Michael McDowell, blew an engine during practice and opted out of qualifying. McDowell will start the race 35th on owner points.

The 11 cars that failed inspection, plus McDowell's, will line up at the rear of the field according to owner points, led by Johnson in 29th.

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Pos. # Driver Make Sponsor Time Behind Lap
1 21 Ryan Blaney Ford Motorcraft 28.481 0.000 189.600
2 22 Joey Logano Ford AAA Insurance 28.490 -0.009 189.540
3 78 Martin Truex Jr Toyota Auto-Owners Insurance 28.541 -0.060 189.201
4 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford Go Bowling 28.594 -0.113 188.851
5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Red Nose 28.648 -0.167 188.495
6 41 Kurt Busch Ford Monster Energy 28.648 -0.167 188.495
7 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 28.680 -0.199 188.285
8 4 Kevin Harvick Ford Busch Light 28.685 -0.204 188.252
9 42 Kyle Larson Chevy Target 28.731 -0.250 187.950
10 24 Chase Elliott Chevy NAPA 28.801 -0.320 187.493
11 3 Austin Dillon Chevy American Ethanol 28.840 -0.359 187.240
12 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy McDonald's 28.895 -0.414 186.884
13 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 28.712 -0.231 188.075
14 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota Circle K 28.726 -0.245 187.983
15 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota Stanley 28.728 -0.247 187.970
16 6 Trevor Bayne Ford Roush Performance 28.744 -0.263 187.865
17 2 Brad Keselowski Ford Elite Support 28.750 -0.269 187.826
18 27 Paul Menard Chevy FVP / Menards 28.766 -0.285 187.722
19 31 Ryan Newman Chevy Caterpillar 28.775 -0.294 187.663
20 37 Chris Buescher Chevy Scott Products 28.895 -0.414 186.884
21 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy Dillons ClickList 28.898 -0.417 186.864
22 13 Ty Dillon Chevy Twisted Tea 29.013 -0.532 186.123
23 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford IncredibleBank.Com 29.103 -0.622 185.548
24 10 Danica Patrick Ford Wonder Woman/One Cure 29.252 -0.771 184.603
25 23 Gray Gaulding Toyota Dr Pepper 29.339 -0.858 184.055
26 72 Cole Whitt Ford RTIC Coolers 29.783 -1.302 181.311
27 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevy Little Joe's Autos 30.313 -1.832 178.141
28 55 Derrike Cope Chevy TBD 30.875 -2.394 174.899
29 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy Lowe's 0.000 28.481 0.000
30 14 Clint Bowyer Ford Mobil 1 Annual Protection 0.000 28.481 0.000
31 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy Farmers Insurance 0.000 28.481 0.000
32 77 Erik Jones Toyota 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength 0.000 28.481 0.000
33 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevy Mountain Dew DEW-S-A 0.000 28.481 0.000
34 38 David Ragan Ford Overton's 0.000 28.481 0.000
35 95 Michael McDowell Chevy Tommy Williams Drywall 0.000 28.481 0.000
36 34 Landon Cassill Ford A&W 0.000 28.481 0.000
37 15 Reed Sorenson Chevy Harrah's North Kansas City 0.000 28.481 0.000
38 83 Corey Lajoie Toyota Dustless Blasting 0.000 28.481 0.000
39 51 Timmy Hill Chevy Lilly Trucking 0.000 28.481 0.000
40 66 Carl Long Chevy TBA 0.000 28.481 0.000

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Coors Light Pole Award winner Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Motorcraft/ Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford) and second-place qualifier Joey Logano (No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford)

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