FORT WORTH, Texas – Kevin Harvick swept all three rounds of knockout qualifying to earn his second pole of the season Friday at the recently repaved Texas Motor Speedway.
Harvick secured the pole with a stunningly fast lap of 27.217 seconds at 198.405 mph. Harvick was more than four miles per hour faster during qualifying than the fastest lap turned in practice earlier in the day by Ryan Blaney.
Harvick said the additional laps he was able to make in practice Friday for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race really helped him get use to the new pavement at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Just really proud of everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Ford,” Harvick said. “It’s been a stressful day. Coming in and breaking in a new race track and then going out there and running as fast as we had to run for qualifying…I’ve got to say thank you to the XFINITY guys for letting me run that car this weekend. I feel like the reps allowed us to learn some things in that car that I was able to apply here.
“It’s been an interesting day and I’m looking forward to trying to get our car right for the race.”
Blaney earned his second front row start of the year for Wood Brothers Racing with a 27.270-second lap. He and Clint Bowyer actually ran identical laps, but Blaney was awarded second because he is currently higher in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings.
“We got better each round, which is always encouraging. That’s always what you want,” Blaney said. “I heard they give you a shotgun when you win the pole here and I saw my lap and I thought that might do it. Then I saw Kevin just sneak by us.”
Bowyer will line up third, followed by the Team Penske duo of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Ford swept the top-five positions in qualifying.
The remainder of the top dozen in the final round of qualifying were Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
Qualifying started with a large backup in the inspection line. Nine teams were unable to make it through inspection by the time the first round was complete, meaning they’ll start at the rear of the field for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
The nine that failed to make a lap were Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill and Derrike Cope. Busch, Jones and Elliott all crashed in practice, with Jones and Elliott moving to backup cars.
The first round of qualifying was also eventful on track as Jimmie Johnson spun with 9:25 left in the session after completing his lap. His lap was enough to allow him to advance to round two, but with three flat spotted tires he was unable to make a lap in the second round and will officially start 24th on Sunday.
With 40 cars on hand, they will all start Sunday’s race. This is the first time since the season opening Daytona 500 that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has drawn a full 40-car field.