Paul Menard wins second career Cup pole at Chicagoland
Paul Menard scored his first Cup pole in nearly 10 years Saturday, taking the top spot with a lap of 180.012 mph Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway.
Menard’s last pole came 358 races ago at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008.
“My guys did a hell of a job today,” Menard said after his qualification run. “We weren’t very good in practice. We did a mock run that was so loose that we had to abort it and never really got a true mock run. We had speed and all through those rounds we got a little too loose in round two and we adjusted for it. Round three drove like rails. It was good.”
Menard beat the former driver of the No. 21 Wood Bros. car Ryan Blaney by .022 seconds. Blaney qualified at 179.880 mph. Menard and Blaney create an all-Ford front row for Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Chase Elliott took two bags of IV fluid following the Overton’s 300 Xfinity race. He advanced to the final round of qualification and will line up third.
Denny Hamlin (179.736) and Kurt Busch (179.545 mph) rounded out the top five.
Rookie William Byron posted a lap of 179.057 mph and will start ninth.
The sophomore Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Erik Jones (178.826) and Daniel Suarez (176.315) qualified 10th and 11th respectively.
The two drivers who have dominated the 1.5-mile tracks so far in 2018 failed to advance to the final round of qualification. Kevin Harvick (178.761) will start 13th. Kyle Busch (177.684) will start 18th. Busch won last year’s pole for this race.
Harvick told reporters after the race that he missed the final round partly because of this is an impound race.
“With the impound stuff it is a little more difficult to hit the qualifying stuff than what it was when it is a whole qualifying setup,” Harvick said. “We were just too loose. We made a lot of changes to our car for tomorrow and the impound does make it a little difficult to his the setup sometimes.”