14th Annual Michigan National Guard 200 - Qualifying

Ty Dillon earns first Nationwide pole, will pace today’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas

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Ty Dillon will pace the field in this afternoon’s 2014 Boyd Gaming 300 Nationwide Series race, having earned his first career NNS pole Saturday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Dillon was the only driver over 182 mph, covering the 1.5-mile progressively-banked track with a top speed of 182.278 mph, a LVMS NNS track record.

“I hope the fans really enjoy this new qualifying system, because it’s exciting for us,” Dillon said. “Everything’s been going real good, our car’s been real fast, just real excited for our future and to get this race going.”

Brad Keselowski was second-fastest at 181.702 mph, followed by Sprint Cup Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. at third-fastest with a speed of 181.147 mph.

Here’s how the field stacks up:

Row 1

Ty Dillon, 182.278 mph

Brad Keselowski, 181.702

Row 2

Dale Earnhardt Jr., 181.147

Kyle Larson, 180.880

Row 3

Brian Scott, 180.699

Matt Kenseth, 180.451

Row 4

Kyle Busch, 180.403

Dylan Kwasniewski, 180.168

Row 5

Chase Elliott, 180.000

Regan Smith, 179.444

Row 6

Matt Crafton, 178.838

Chris Buescher, 178.684

Row 7

Elliott Sadler, 179.069

James Buescher, 179.004

Row 8

Ryan Reed, 178.849

Brendan Gaughan, 178.826

Row 9

Trevor Bayne, 178.336

Blake Koch, 178.288

Row 10

David Ragan, 177.602

Mike Bliss, 177.328

Row 11

Dakoda Armstrong, 177.247

Ryan Sieg, 175.907

Row 12

Josh Wise, 175.661

Landon Cassill, 175.268

Row 13

JJ Yeley, 175.143

Jamie Dick, 174.582

Row 14

Tanner Berryhill, 174.289

Mike Wallace, 174.059

Row 15

Jeremy Clements, 173.963

Eric McClure, 173.477

Row 16

Jeffrey Earnhardt, 173.455

Jeff Green, 173.371

Row 17

Kevin Lepage, 172.513

Tommy Joe Martins, 172.304

Row 18

Derrike Cope, 170.821

Joe Gase, 170.756

Row 19

Daryl Harr, 170.127

Ryan Ellis, 169.630

Row 20

Robert Richardson, 167.473

Matt DiBenedetto, 171.467

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IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the Verizon IndyCar Series field. Finishing sixth in 2015 after a late rally was Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 6th Place, 3 Wins, 1 Pole, 6 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 195 Laps Led, 10.2 Avg. Start, 10.9 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 6th Place, 2 Wins, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 71 Laps Led, 12.2 Avg. Start, 10.4 Avg. Finish

The old adage “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” would probably be the best way to sum up Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2015 season, which until the final quarter of season could best be described as a forgettable nightmare.

The first three races seemed somewhat OK, with eighth, seventh and fourth place grid spots. But none of the three produced a result of note; Hunter-Reay was also caught up in the three-car, late race accident at NOLA Motorsports Park and didn’t bank any good finish until a fifth place at Barber the end of April.

A tailspin followed. Hunter-Reay started between 14th and 21st every race between the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Milwaukee – a stretch of eight races – and only had one top-10 finish in that stint, eighth at the rain-affected lottery that was Detroit race two. Some seasons are just ones you want to end and by Milwaukee it was obvious that Hunter-Reay was racing just to get to the end of the year, without things getting any worse.

Things finally came good with a typically good drive at Iowa and arguably one of the drives of his career, two races later at Pocono, to end with two wins and extend his streak of winning a race in each of his six seasons at Andretti Autosport. It was no coincidence, either, that Hunter-Reay’s uptick in form came with the return of the late Justin Wilson’s presence in a fourth car.

After Pocono, Hunter-Reay also drove well to finish second at Sonoma, and by that point he’d completed an incredible late-season turnaround to jump from 14th to sixth in points. But if asked, he’d probably admit this was his toughest season yet at Andretti and arguably his toughest overall since his 2009 season, when he was in-between full-time rides and saw out the year with Vision Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field with fifth-placed Helio Castroneves.

Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 2nd Place, 1 Win, 3 Poles, 6 Podiums, 7 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 282 Laps Led, 5.7 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 5th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 4 Poles, 5 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 198 Laps Led, 4.9 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish

Much as you’d write about his fellow countryman and longtime friend and rival Tony Kanaan, age hasn’t slowed Helio Castroneves, but it’s instead fueled continued success. And while Castroneves went winless for only the second time (2011) in his illustrious 16-year career with Team Penske, he wasn’t down on performance.

Now 40, Castroneves continued to have several shining moments in 2015, which was particularly important to do to stand out against defending champion Will Power, this year’s primary title contender Juan Pablo Montoya and new driver Simon Pagenaud.

Castroneves scored four pole positions and boasted a 4.9 averaging starting position, second in the field to Power, which was very impressive to note. His run of form from Texas through Milwaukee, capturing three podiums in four races, was his best race stretch this season. Additional highlights included back-to-back runner-up results in the NOLA lottery and then on pure pace at Long Beach.

The month of May must though be viewed as a disappointment. Castroneves played a role in the first corner mess at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and got a points penalty (although the number was dropped) as a result. Then he endured another Indianapolis 500 where he was not the out-and-out fastest car in the Penske brigade. While Montoya and Power were dueling for the win and Pagenaud had speed to burn all month, Castroneves’ lone moment of note came with his accident in practice, which mercifully he emerged unscathed from.

As ever though, fifth in this field owed to his consistency and dogged determination to succeed. Castroneves has ended top-five in seven of the last eight seasons since the IRL/Champ Car merger in 2008 and if it wasn’t for Dixon’s top-three run hogging the headlines, we’d probably appreciate Castroneves even more so. As long as he’s continually competitive, he’s still worthy at Team Penske.