It’s Déjà Vu For Ryan Blaney In The Las Vegas Garage

Ryan Blaney, seen here from a recent media availability, will start Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from the pole. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Ryan Blaney did a double take.

The No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, decked out in its traditional red, white and gold colors, drove past Blaney in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage.

That was the car Blaney drove last year before moving to Team Penske for the 2018 season. He felt an eerie sense of familiarity before snapping back to reality.

“I’ll be honest with you. It was really, really weird today,” Blaney said after winning the pole for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “That’s the first time they have run the old school Motorcraft scheme. They didn’t run it at Daytona or Atlanta, so it was strange watching that car today.

“Then (current Woods Brothers driver) Paul (Menard) comes walking down for qualifying, and he’s in the same suit I was in last year. Not the same one, but the same style. That was super weird. It was like the Twilight Zone.

“I’m going down pit road, and his helmet is white like mine was last year. It’s the exact same way that I think I looked. But it was super weird.”

Blaney, incidentally, was also fastest in final practice on Saturday, posting a lap at 186.445 mph.

Kyle Larson Leads A Chevy Show In Saturday’s First Practice

On Friday, three Fords paced Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying, with Ryan Blaney taking the pole, Kevin Harvick posting the second fastest lap and Kurt Busch claiming the third spot on the grid.

In Saturday morning’s first practice, however, Chevrolet drivers turned the tables, setting the three fastest speeds in their new Camaro ZL1 race cars.

Kyle Larson topped the speed chart at 187.559 mph, followed by Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson.

“The car is really good,” Larson said after the session. “We tested here about a month ago and were fast and got a good balance on our car. I think this practice we were just kind of chasing the track a little bit. I was loose the first few runs we did and worked on tightening it up and then we put a set of stickers (new tires) on there a few laps there at the end, ran a fast lap.

“But it went tight really fast. So I think, if we would have just waited to practice and left the same set-up on there to start, we would have been fine. The track just went through a lot of changes, transition, I think.”

In final practice, under slightly warmer conditions, Larson was second fastest behind Blaney.

Short Strokes

-Defending race winner Martin Truex, Jr., who celebrated his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in Las Vegas last November, showed up during final practice, posting the third-fastest lap at 186.091 mph. It was the Vegas race in March that launched Truex’s title run. That was the first of his eight victories last year, and seven of those wins came on 1.5-mile intermediate speedways…

-Denny Hamlin cut a tire during Saturday’s first practice and blew apart a brake duct, causing a brief caution in the session… Kyle Larson had the fastest consecutive 10-lap average in Happy Hour, running 183.935 mph.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Las Vegas, NV
Pennzoil 400 – March 4, 2018

Sunday’s Starting Lineup

1. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 191.489 mph.
2. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 190.248 mph.
3. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 190.067 mph.
4. (78) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 189.980 mph.
5. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 189.447 mph.
6. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 189.175 mph.
7. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 189.148 mph.
8. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 189.102 mph.
9. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 188.719 mph.
10. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 188.640 mph.
11. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 188.469 mph.
12. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 188.442 mph.
13. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 188.838 mph.
14. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 188.712 mph.
15. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 188.607 mph.
16. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.442 mph.
17. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 188.363 mph.
18. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 187.865 mph.
19. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 187.846 mph.
20. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 187.441 mph.
21. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 187.305 mph.
22. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 187.246 mph.
23. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 187.162 mph.
24. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 186.413 mph.
25. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.650 mph.
26. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr. #, Chevrolet, 187.546 mph.
27. (47) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 186.916 mph.
28. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 186.335 mph.
29. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 186.123 mph.
30. (51) Cole Custer(i), Ford, 185.982 mph.
31. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 185.312 mph.
32. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 185.027 mph.
33. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 183.418 mph.
34. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 182.272 mph.
35. (23) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 179.241 mph.
36. (00) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 176.292 mph.
37. (55) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 173.628 mph.


About Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service