With a lap of 200.505 mph, Ryan Blaney won the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas. This is Blaney’s sixth consecutive top-10 start at Texas, but his first pole. He qualified second last spring before finishing 12th.
Blaney’s speed is the second fastest pole ever on a 1.5-mile track behind Kurt Busch (200.915 mph, Texas November 2017).
Clint Bowyer (200.230) was the only other driver to crack the 200 mph mark. Bowyer started third at Texas this spring before finishing ninth.
Other playoff contenders Kurt Busch (199.225) qualified seventh, Joey Logano (199.086) qualified eighth and Kyle Busch (198.705) qualified 10th.
Missing the final round of time trials, playoff contender Martin Truex Jr. (197.962) qualified 13th.
Chase Elliott was the slowest among playoff contenders. His speed of 197.686 mph puts him 16th on the grid. In five starts at Texas, he has started 20th or worse three times but has never finished lower than 11th.
Trying to advance into the Round 2, David Ragan spun into the infield after exiting Turn 4.
The No. 66 entry of Timmy Hill was withdrawn before qualification started.
Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Cup practices at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.
Now, KBM has gone north of the border for its latest addition to the fold, 17-year-old Canadian teenager Raphael Lessard.
Lessard, a native of Saint Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, is slated to drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra in three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races for KBM this season: Martinsville (March 23), Dover (May 3) and Bristol (August 15). He turns 18 in July.
“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said in a media release. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”
The move to Trucks is a promotion for Lessard, who competed for KBM’s Super Late Model Program in 2018. He captured two wins: the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol last May, and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Indiana) Speedway last July.
In 16 combined starts for KBM last season, Lessard recorded two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018 across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” team owner and NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch said in a media release. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”