Ryan Blaney grabs the pole for NASCAR Playoff Round of eight eliminator

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Ryan Blaney bought what he wanted in Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series knockout qualifying session-but solely by a thousandth of a second.

In the ultimate spherical, Blaney coated the one-mile distance at Phoenix Raceway in 26.098 seconds (137.942 mph) to edge Denny Hamlin (137.936 mph) by .001 for the highest beginning spot in Sunday’s Can-Am 500, the ultimate race within the Playoff’s Round of eight (on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET).

With the Playoff discipline set to be trimmed from eight drivers to 4 after the race at Phoenix, each Blaney and Hamlin are under the reduce line. A victory for both driver would badure the ultimate spot within the Nov. 19 Championship four race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The similar is true for Chase Elliott, whose solely reasonable shot on the closing 4 is to win on Sunday. Elliott certified fourth at 137.641 mph, one place behind Kyle Larson (137.926 mph), who fell .003 seconds in need of matching the pole-winning pace.

“We got better each round, which is all you can ask for, really,” mentioned Blaney, who received his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, the second of his profession and his first at Phoenix. “I believed the final spherical was our greatest. We ran our quickest time, and it was sufficient. That says one thing robust about this group.

“I believe we began second right here within the spring, and to again that up and higher it at an enormous weekend like this, the place we have now to carry out nicely, that is undoubtedly encouraging, and it will get our weekend began off on foot. Hopefully, we are able to preserve this momentum up and preserve it going and see what we have now for them on Sunday.”

Brad Keselowski, fourth within the standings and 19 factors forward of Hamlin in fifth, was the one Playoff driver who did not advance to the third spherical of time trials. Keselowski certified 16th in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford, placing him in a deprived place for accumulating factors within the race’s first two levels.

“It’s a brief race, and if there is a monitor to qualify nicely, that is considered one of them,” Keselowski said. “It’s not the place we wish to begin, however when the monitor will get sizzling and slick, we appear to run higher right here than when it cools off at evening.

“I don’t know, maybe that’s my style. I’m not sure, but we’ll go race and see what we’ve got.”

Keselowski’s lackluster qualifying effort, will not change Hamlin’s method to the race.

“It doesn’t alter it much,” mentioned Hamlin, who reduce the backstretch dogleg within the closing spherical in an try to shorten the gap. “I did not badume they have been going to qualify that nice, however they sometimes race fairly nicely right here.

“I am not going to depend on something – not till we get to the tip of the primary stage and I see the place we’re at. I am badured that beginning proper there, we must always most likely be up entrance all day.”

Elliott trails Keselowski by 49 factors coming into the ultimate occasion within the Round of eight. Unlike Blaney and Hamlin, who may make the Championship four on factors if Keselowski fades, Elliott is in a win-or-bust scenario.

Getting the fourth choose of pit stalls ought to badist.

“If we get our automobile driving good (in Saturday’s observe), it is a lot adequate,” Elliott said of his qualifying run. “So we’ll see. It would have been good to have that first pit field, however I believe taking fourth, there are 4 good ones on pit highway. We’ll make the most of that and attempt to go get ’em on Sunday.”

Twelfth-place qualifier Jimmie Johnson is in the identical place as Elliott, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. If the seven-time champion hopes to protect a shot at an eighth title this yr, he’ll must win on Sunday.

“We made it to the third spherical, and I simply bought actually aggressive in that spherical making an attempt to run a flat (26 seconds),” Johnson said. “Just bought within the nook too exhausting on each ends and I type of pushed up.

“So, could have been better, but I don’t know if we could have had the pole. I think we would have only been about fifth or sixth if I had got it right.”

— NASCAR Wire Service —

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