For the third time in four weeks, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney starts from the pole in a NASCAR Cup Series race.
Sunday, it will be at Richmond Raceway. Blaney laid down the fastest lap in the final round of single-car qualifying with the No. 12 Ford Mustang running 119.782mph (22.541s).
“I will say, it’s definitely not been my best place at all,” Blaney said of the Virginia short track. “I struggled here really bad for years, and I still don’t feel like I’m great here at all…let alone very good. We’ve worked really hard on figuring out what to do better here, from myself to how we unload with the car to be more competitive in the race. And that’s been years of progress of me trying to figuring out what the heck I need to do.
“I feel like everyone’s done a really good job to bring a fast car. Qualifying on the pole here is one thing; Racing here is a completely other thing. It’s great we got the pole but it’s now time to switch to race mode and, OK, what do we got to do to be able to hold on in the race? The new car is a little bit different here driving-wise and maybe that’s kind of a fresh start for me — having a new car at this place and working really hard with everybody at Penske on the 12 team to figure out what I need to do to just get more competitive here.
It is the ninth pole of Blaney’s Cup Series career; his first at Richmond in 12 starts.
William Byron joins Blaney on the front row with a fastest lap of 119.585mph.
Kyle Busch starts third after qualifying at 119.290mph. Chase Briscoe starts fourth with a speed of 119.163mph and Erik Jones completes the top five at 118.697mph.
Martin Truex Jr. qualified sixth at 118.624mph. Kevin Harvick seventh at 118.624mph. Ross Chastain eighth at 118.593mph. Christopher Bell ninth at 118.400mph. Aric Almirola rounds out the top 10 at 118.322mph.
Defending spring Richmond winner Alex Bowman only qualified 28th fastest at 118.328mph.
Justin Haley and Greg Biffle were not permitted to qualify and will start 36th and 37th on the grid. Their cars failed inspection three times. Both drivers will also be required to do a pass-through penalty at the start of the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday.