Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are set for their second front-row start of the 2017 season after Blaney secured the outside pole with a lap at 198.020 miles per hour on a repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway.
Blaney, who also started on the outside pole at Phoenix, has three top-three qualifying runs this season, including a third-place effort at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Friday was a banner day for Ford at Texas as Blaney’s Ford teammate Kevin Harvick won the pole, with fellow Ford drivers Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski all taking the top-five starting spots.
Ford also won the opening practice round with Blaney setting the pace with a best lap of 194.182 mph.
Once qualifying started, Blaney was sixth fastest in the first round with a lap at 194.419 mph. He was fifth in Round Two with a lap at 196.657 mph before finishing second in the third and final round despite a significant jump in speed from the second round.
Blaney said afterwards that he should have raised the track bar on the backstretch on his final lap to keep his car from being tight in Turns Three and Four, but otherwise it was a great day for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
“We got better each round which is always encouraging, always what you want,” he said. “You never want to get worse or make the wrong adjustments. I feel this year we’ve gotten better going round by round.
“Man, I heard that they give you a shotgun when you win the pole here. I saw my lap and thought that might do it but Kevin (Harvick) just snuck by us.”
Even though he failed to earn a firearm on Friday, Blaney is optimistic about his chances in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
“I think I have a really fast Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion,” he said. “It was even good in race trim today. The track has come a long way in a few hours and hopefully it will widen out even more for the Xfinity race tomorrow and for our practices.
“Not a bad start to the weekend.”
Sunday’s 500-miler is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (1:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.