NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Blaney races to Busch Light Pole Award at Richmond

For the second consecutive week and third time of the seven-race old season, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney will start from the Busch Light Pole – earning the top position Saturday in qualifying for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Blaney’s No. 12 Ford Mustang turned in a lap of 119.782 mph to take the top position by only .20 over William Byron in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Blaney – who, remarkably, has only a single top-10 finish in 11 starts at the 0.75-mile Richmond track – was fastest in his first group as well as topping the final qualifying session.

“It means a lot,” Blaney told FS1. “Honestly, I didn’t think I got a very good lap. It was kind of an ugly lap on my end. Really proud of the 12 group.

“Track position means a lot here,” he continued. “Especially how my past history is here, I need all the track position I can get. Good start to the weekend, just got to keep it up and keep tires under it, that’s the biggest thing. We’ll see what tomorrow holds. Should be fun.”

Kyle Busch will start the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota third, alongside Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe. Busch’s six wins at Richmond is most among active drivers and he is one of three former winners to advance to the top 10 in qualifying.

The Richmond track has historically been a good venue for the Joe Gibbs Racing team, which is still looking for its first victory of the 2022 season. Five different Gibbs drivers have accounted for eight wins in the last 12 Richmond races.

Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones will start fifth, alongside JGR driver Martin Truex Jr., who has won three times in the last five Richmond races. SHR’s Kevin Harvick, another three-time Richmond winner, will start sixth alongside last weekend’s COTA winner, Ross Chastain, driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.

Christopher Bell (No. 20 JGR Toyota) and Aric Almirola (No. 10 SHR Ford) rounded out the top 10 in qualifying. Defending race winner Alex Bowman will start the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 28th in the 37-car field.

Busch set the tone in the lone 20-minute practice session, posting 26 laps at a best time of 22.558 seconds and a top speed of 119.691 mph. Chris Buescher and Blaney timed in just behind the No. 18 at 22.628 and 22.689 seconds, respectively. Busch’s teammate, Christopher Bell, and Briscoe rounded out the top five. Three-time and most recent Richmond winner Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth on the practice leaderboard.

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