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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Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”