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Team Penske has struggled during qualifying in the first three races of the 2019 Cup season.
Ryan Blaney, who was fastest in the one Cup practice session earlier in the day on Friday, roared back to grab the pole for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.
The 25-year-old Blaney earned his sixth career Cup pole – and first of this season – with a speed of 141.287 mph.
“It’s a good way to start the weekend off, for sure,” Blaney told Fox Sports 1. “Qualifying hadn’t been our best this year, but this is the first short track we’ve been at.
“We’ve had speed all day, which has been a lot of fun and we just kind of tweaked on it and tweaked on it. It’s a good way to start off the weekend. Hopefully, it keeps going well for us.”
Chase Elliott was second-fastest at 140.171 mph, followed by Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin (140.007 mph), Kyle Busch (139.855), Brad Keselowski (139.849), Alex Bowman (139.768), William Byron (139.567), Kevin Harvick (139.411), Martin Truex Jr. (139.206), Erik Jones (138.991), Daniel Hemric (138.846) and Las Vegas winner Joey Logano (138.664).
“I hate qualifying second,” Elliott said. “I look forward to Sunday. At least we have a good place to start. I really would have liked to get a pole outside a speedway track, so we’ll try again next week.”
NOTES: The No. 2 Ford of Atlanta winner Brad Keselowski twice failed pre-qualifying inspection and was docked 15 minutes in Saturday’s final practice, plus team engineer Brandon Pope was ejected for the remainder of the weekend.