Bowyer takes Open pole over Blaney

Clint Bowyer scored the pole for Saturday night’s Monster Energy Open at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bowyer takes Open pole over Blaney

Bowyer was the first driver on the track and posted a lap of 189.474mph, which held up for the top spot.

“A lot of effort goes into it — even in the Open race Proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas,” Bowyer said. “We kind of left off were they were last night. Hope to join them later tonight.”

Ryan Blaney was second with a lap of 188.009mph followed by Chase Elliott (187.859mph), Austin Dillon (187.487mph) , AJ Allmendinger (187.285mph), Daniel Suarez (186.425mph), Erik Jones (185.829mph) and Ty Dillon (184.175mph).

Time trials of the Monster Energy Open started under caution before it began. A track security officer decided to tool around Turn 1 just as Jones pulled down to the timing line at the end of pit road. NASCAR reset the clock at 4:43 — the time when the caution was called — and qualifying continued. 

After Bowyer nailed his lap, his crew chief Mike Bugarewicz told the driver, “28.50, good lap.”

Although  Blaney’s lap didn’t feel solid, he ended up second.

“I really don’t know what happened there,” Blaney said. 

Elliott was the next driver to take a lap. 

“I got a little free in that last little section at the bottom on 3,” Elliott said. 

AJ Allmendinger, who will have crew chief Ernie Cope calling the shots this weekend, saw an immediate improvement.

“We definitely have more speed in the car, which is good,” said Allmendinger.

Austin Dillon, who transferred in the last minute in the first round, described his car as “tight coming to the green.” Dillon, who had the most laps on his tires said he was loose at the exit of Turn 4. 

His brother Ty didn’t hold back on his description.

“I got loose getting up to speed in 3 and 4, (crappy lap),” Ty Dillon said. 

Open qualifying 

Clint Bowyer was the fastest of 24 drivers attempting to earn one eight positions in second round of qualifying of the Monster Energy Open. 

Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Austin  Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon transfered to the final round. 

Carl Long was the first driver on the track for the 20-minute session. Despite two runs, the best lap he could muster was 175.655mph. 

Blaney was the fourth driver on the track and posted a lap of 188.646mph with just under 15 minutes remaining. Matt DiBenedetto, Corey LaJoie and David Ragan rolled out just before the 10-minute mark, but none of the drivers could touch Blaney’s speed. 

Trevor Bayne jumped to second with a lap of 184.641mph, but was topped by AJ Allmendinger (186.657mph) and the Toyotas of Erik Jones (188.627mph) and Daniel Suarez (185.746mph).

With seven minutes remaining, Bowyer bumped Blaney from the top spot with a lap of 188.765mph. 

As the clock wound down to five minutes, Chase Elliott posted the fourth-quickest speed of 188.107mph. Danica Patrick pushed Austin Dillon out of the top-eight with a lap of 185.427mph.

“A little loose,” Patrick said over the radio.

Paul Menard ran a third lap but wasn’t able to crack the top-eight. He settled for 11th (185.160mph). 

Austin Dillon made a last dash attempt to break into the top-eight with 90-seconds remaining on the clock. He crossed the line with the fifth fastest lap — 186.961mph — as time expired. He returned the favor to Patrick, pushing her back to ninth.

“I wish we could have done that on the first lap,” Dillon said. “We were just too loose taking off.”

Regan Smith, who is subbing for the injured Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Ford, made three attempts at a fast lap but settled for 13th (184.300mph).

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