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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Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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