Ryan Blaney claims Vegas pole; Harvick still fast in 2nd

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, poses for a photo after winning the Pole Award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney has won the pole for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Blaney earned his third career pole with a lap at 191.489 mph in his Team Penske Ford on a windy Friday night.

Kevin Harvick kept up his outstanding start to the season and secured a front-row Ford lockout with a second-place finish in qualifying. The Stewart-Haas Racing stalwart earned his best starting position in 18 career races in Vegas by turning a lap at 190.248 mph.

Fords claimed the top three spots and five of the first eight. Las Vegas native Kurt Busch qualified right behind Harvick at 190.067 mph, while Martin Truex Jr. drove his Toyota into fourth.

Blaney blazed through the final round of knockout qualifying for his first pole of the young season and his first since late last year in Phoenix. The 24-year-old is off to a solid start to the season with a seventh-place finish at Daytona, and he'll be in prime position in Vegas to record his second career victory.

Blaney finished third in qualifying last year on this 1 1/2-mile oval in the desert.

"I like this place," Blaney said. "It's just a combination of everybody working hard, and it shows the speed we've had all weekend. It would be really nice to get a win this early in the season."

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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