With a lap time of 25.480 seconds, Ryan Blaney captured his sixth career pole for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Blaney was also fastest in practice earlier in the day after only 10 laps on track with a slightly faster time at 25.403. He was the only driver to break the 25.4 second bracket in both first practice and qualifying on Friday.
“Nice to get our first pole of the year,” Blaney shared on Twitter. “Really great to have Money Lion with us for their first Cup race.”
Chase Elliott will share the front row for Sunday’s race. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski complete the top five qualifying positions.
Alex Bowman and William Byron will start sixth and seventh respectively, putting three of the four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet cars in the final round of qualifying.
Kevin Harvick, defending race winner, will go for his 10th career victory at the Arizona 1-mile oval, and start from the eighth position.
Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones finish the top-10 starting spots. Rookie Daniel Hemric will start his No. 8 Okuma Chevrolet in 11th place.
The 2018 MENCS Champion, Joey Logano, will start from 12th place, the last position of the final round of qualifying.
Kyle Larson was third fastest in practice, but had terrible track position during the first round of qualifying. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to continue past the first round, and will start in 31st on Sunday. Bayley Currey was the only driver that elected not to run a timed lap.
A lot of attention went to pit road shortly after the first session when Daniel Suárez and Michael McDowell had a brief fight. Crew members eventually broke up the fight, and the two would eventually calm down to have a more civil conversation about the on-track altercation.
“I always have my helmet when I get in and out (of the race car), just an old habit,” McDowell shared with Jamie Little from FOX Sports. “Just miscommunication on the race track. We all kinda waited until the end and then we just had a lot of traffic. Just unfortunate. He was upset that I held him up on his good lap, and then he tried to crash us. I just didn’t appreciate it.
“It’s just ‘heat of the moment’ stuff. It’s racing. These shorter practice sessions, shorter qualifying, getting late going through tech, intensity ramps up so it’s all a part of it.”
Suárez felt disrespected by the No. 34 driver’s racing etiquette.
“Just lack of respect,” after Vince Welch from FOX Sports asked for Suárez’s take on the altercation. “Track position is very big in races these days, and you have to qualify well to have a good stall on pit road, and obviously to have a good start in the race. The race is long, so we can overcome that, but just a lack of respect. Everyone here in the garage knows the second lap is a good one. You have to try to get out of the way if somebody is coming into a hot lap, and he didn’t. He killed me in one corner. I thought he would get out of the way in that second corner, and he didn’t and I almost wrecked him.
“He was disappointed because I was trying to wreck him afterwards, but that’s about racing.”
Coincidentally, McDowell (27th) and Suárez (28th) will start together from the 14th row on Sunday.
The TicketGuardian 500 will be on television on FOX or over radio with MRN on Sunday, March 10 with the green flag scheduled to wave at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
YRB in PHX! Retweet to congratulate Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 team on their POLE. pic.twitter.com/hjwngqSRom— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 9, 2019