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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Ryan Blaney Claims Pocono Pole

Last June at Pocono Raceway, Ryan Blaney jumped into the winner’s column. On Friday (June 1) at the Tricky Triangle, he drove the No. 12 car to the pole.

With a speed of 176.897 mph, Blaney edged out five-time winner in 2018 Kevin Harvick for the top spot (176.807 mph). Prior to the final round, the No. 4 car was quickest in the opening two rounds of qualifying.

“We made really good changes on our car for the last round,” Blaney said of his pole-winning performance. “I didn’t hit a good Turn 1 the first two laps, and finally we figured something out to where we got through there a little better. That helped out, but they did a great job of changing the car with what they had to work with. It had the speed in it all along, we just needed to get a clean lap.”

This Blaney’s fourth career pole and second of 2018, also starting first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In two of the three other races the 24-year-old started from pole, he finished inside the top five.

Jamie McMurray ended the session with the third quickest time (176.626 mph), his best starting position of the season. However, he thought he had a shot at the pole during the run.

“We kind of thought this week was going to be a little better because Hendrick said the engines — they had a little bit of an upgrade and this is definitely an engine racetrack,” McMurray said of his third-place effort. “We were pretty encouraged by coming here and the team has done an awesome job of getting our Camaros better. I’m thrilled with our performance today. I made a little mistake in the last round, which would have been awesome.”

Former Pocono winners Martin Truex Jr. (176.516 mph) and Kyle Busch (176.478 mph) rounded out the top five in Friday’s qualifying session.

Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin completed the remainder of the top 10.

Notable drivers that failed to make it to the final round of qualifying include Kyle Larson (13th), who has been the quickest Chevrolet this season. Four-time Pocono winner Jimmie Johnson ended the session in 15th, while 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski was 17th, the lone Team Penske driver not to make the final round.

Erik Jones, who was coming off a second-place qualifying effort at Charlotte last weekend failed to make it out of the first round and will start 25th on Sunday.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will have one practice on Saturday (June 2) beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Green flag for the Pocono 400 will wave shortly after 2 p.m. ET on Sunday (June 3).

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