Paul Menard wins pole for NASCAR Cup Series race

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Paul Menard won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

It’s the second career pole for Menard, who has just one top-five finish this season. He also qualified first for a race at Daytona almost exactly 10 years ago.

“Ten years, it goes by quick. I feel old now,” the 37-year-old Menard said with a wry grin.

Menard turned a lap at 180.012 mph in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. He has one career win, taking the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Ryan Blaney joined Menard on the front row. Blaney was second at 179.880 mph in his No. 12 Team Penske Ford.

Blaney drove Menard’s car with Wood Brothers Racing in the previous two seasons.

“We’ll see,” Blaney said. “It’s always up in the air. … It’s always good to have raw speed in the car like that for qualifying and you just hope it carries over.”

Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. Martin Truex Jr., who has won the last two NASCAR Cup Series races at Chicagoland, qualified 12th on Saturday.

“Not bad,” Hamlin said. “We got a little better each round. It was good. The balance of the car wasn’t too far off.”

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