LAS VEGAS — If the last two weeks are any indication, Ford’s disadvantage against the other two manufacturers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been decidedly erased.
One week after Kevin Harvick rolled to a dominant victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney continued the Blue Ovals’ roll by scoring his third-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole position on Friday evening at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Blaney, who was third or better in all three knockout rounds, saved his best for last when he toured the 1.5-mile oval in 28.200 seconds (191.489 mph) with his No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford to earn the top spot on the grid for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM).
The pole effort was Blaney’s first of the season, made his the 14th different driver to win a Cup pole in Sin City and came on a challenging day where wind gusts across the track climbed as high as 40 miles per hour at times during the three sessions.
“The track just kept getting faster,” said Blaney. “As the sun went down, it just kept gaining grip and the crew did a great job adjusting me from round to round. That’s something that’s so important in this format and our team does such a good job at getting better after each run.”
“It’s really cool to have a lot of speed with the Pennzoil colors onboard this weekend, but man, the wind was crazy. It kept blowing us around; it was just gusty. Luckily we didn’t get a big gust in the final round and were able to pull off a pretty big lap.”
Harvick won’t be very far from the front of the field, however, joining Blaney on the front row after posting the second-fastest lap (28.384/190.248) in his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford.
The 2014 Cup champion admitted after his run that he knew exactly where he could have made up some of the time he lost to Blaney.
“I needed the coming to the green lap that I had in the second round,” lamented Harvick. “I had to lift pretty late and it just got the front tires chattering coming off the corner. The rest of the lap was okay; it was a little free but very manageable.”
“When the car starts pushing like that, you just have to let off so it doesn’t get out of the groove and that bit us just a bit. Last week was really good, and now we just have to go out and do what we know how to and see if we can’t get another win on Sunday.”
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