Ryan Blaney stole the show from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series by taking the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Blaney turned in a fast lap of 200.505 mph to beat Clint Bowyer for the top spot. Kevin Harvick will start third and Aric Almirola fourth as six of the eight Chasers qualified in the top 10.
“I would have liked to went 201, to be honest with you,” Blaney said. “We go to a lot of tracks where it’s close. It doesn’t really feel like it. That’s booking it.”
The pole was the fifth for Blaney in his career and his third this year. It’s his first at Texas Motor Speedway.
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Going for broke
Kurt Busch will start Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 on the outside looking in in his bid to make the championship round for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Busch is fifth in points, 25 behind both Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. in his bid to make the final four.
While that’s not the ideal spot for the driver of the No. 41 Ford to be in, it’s also liberating for Busch. He knows the chances of getting in on points are slim so his goal for both Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix next weekend is simple.
“We’ve been too consistent this year,” he said. “That’s our strength. We don’t have to gamble for a two-tire stop or stay out. We’ve just gone for consistent speed. That consistency has got us in this position but it won’t get us to Homestead. We’ve got to go hard, everything, every stage point, we have to try and win at the end of the race. We have to go to the end elbows out.”
Busch, who will start Sunday’s race seventh, had his streak of consecutive poles at TMS snapped at two. He finished seventh at that race after leading 40 laps. He won the fall race at TMS in 2009 and has 18 top-10 finishes at TMS.
Race gets title sponsor
The first-ever spring NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in 2019 will be called the Vankor 350.
Vankor signed a multi-year deal to serve as the entitlement sponsor of the spring race. The first race will be March 29. Vankor is an energy and commodities company with its headquarters in Rockwall.