Ryan Blaney wins pole at Phoenix

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/nationwide/drivers/3085" data-ylk="slk:Ryan Blaney">Ryan Blaney</a> stands next to his race car before practice for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, in Avondale, Ariz. Blaney is one of five drivers looking to fill the final spot for the Championship 4. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
Ryan Blaney stands next to his race car before practice for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, in Avondale, Ariz. Blaney is one of five drivers looking to fill the final spot for the Championship 4. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

When you need to win a race to have a chance for the title, you might as well start first, right?

Ryan Blaney, who’s sixth in the points standings, beat out Denny Hamlin by 0.001 seconds to win the pole for Sunday’s race at Phoenix. Hamlin is three points ahead of Blaney in the standings and 19 points behind Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski currently occupies the fourth and final spot to race for the title. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have clinched berths for next week’s race at Homestead.

If Keselowski, Hamlin, Blaney, Chase Elliott or Jimmie Johnson win on Sunday, the winner will get the fourth berth in the final race. If the victor is not one of those five drivers, then the driver among them with the most points will get the final spot.

Here’s how they’ll line up on Sunday. While Keselowski has a points advantage, he’s at a starting position disadvantage. At 16th, he’s starting the lowest of any of the playoff drivers.

1. Ryan Blaney
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Kyle Larson
4. Chase Elliott
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Kyle Busch
9. Joey Logano
10. Daniel Suarez
11. Erik Jones
12. Jimmie Johnson
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15. Kurt Busch
16. Brad Keselowski
17. Kasey Kahne
18. Ryan Newman
19. Paul Menard
20. Clint Bowyer
21. Austin Dillon
22. Aric Almirola
23. AJ Allmendinger
24. Danica Patrick
25. Trevor Bayne
26. David Ragan
27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
28. Michael McDowell
29. Ty Dillon
30. Matt DiBenedetto
31. Chris Buescher
32. Landon Cassill
33. Corey LaJoie
34. Cole Whitt
35. Joey Gase
36. David Starr
37. DJ Kennington
38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
39. Kyle Weatherman
40. Derrike Cope

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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