Stewart-Haas Racing drivers qualify well at Texas Motor Speedway

Stewart-Haas Racing drivers qualify well at Texas Motor Speedway

November 2nd, 2018 by Associated Press in Breaking News

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch heads down the front stretch at Texas Motor Speedway during practice Friday.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Ryan Blaney turned a lap at 200.505 mph Friday at Texas Motor Speedway to earn the pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile oval.

Clint Bowyer will join Blaney on the front row in the starting lineup after joining him in the 200 mph club during qualifying.

"It's so hard to sit here and explain to somebody what that lap feels like and the adjustments you have to make," Bowyer said. "You have to be committed. You can't just feel it out at that point."

Blaney was just ahead of Bowyer's 200.230 mph lap that was the fastest among the eight contenders still alive in the Cup Series playoffs.

"Really fast lap after leaving Martinsville, of all places," Bowyer said, referring to last Sunday's race at the half-mile paperclip-shaped track.

Blaney described Friday's fast lap, which took just less than 27 seconds to complete, as almost like holding his breath. He won his third pole this season and the fifth of his Cup Series career.

Stewart-Haas's four drivers were the top qualifiers among the championship contenders. Bowyer led the way, with teammates Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola in the second row. Kurt Busch, who was going for his third consecutive pole at Texas, qualified seventh.

The only driver not in a Ford among the top seven qualifiers was Denny Hamlin, who is already out of the playoffs but will start sixth Sunday in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota.

Team Penske's Joey Logano qualified eighth in a Ford, with fellow playoff driver Kyle Busch 10th for JGR. Logano is already locked in as one of the four championship-eligible drivers in two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway after his win at Martinsville.

Two of the playoff contenders didn't make it into the final round of qualifying. Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 Cup champion, qualified 13th, three spots ahead of Chase Elliott, who won two of three races in the second round of the playoffs.

The two other drivers outside of the playoff field who will start in the top 10 Sunday are Brad Keselowski, who qualified fifth, and rookie William Byron, who is ninth.

In qualifying at Texas last November, Kurt Busch ran 200.915 mph on his only lap in the final round of qualifying to set the track record. Five drivers qualified at more than 200 mph for that race.