AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kevin Harvick lost his guaranteed spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race earlier this week because of a penalty, so on Friday he began his quest to once again earn a shot to race for a championship.
Harvick earned the pole for Sunday’s Can-Am at recently renovated ISM Raceway in Arizona thanks to a 25.836-second lap at 139.340 mph aboard his No. 4 Busch Light Ford. It is his fourth pole of the season.
“I really wasn’t expecting that,” said Harvick. “Our cars are usually a lot better in race trim than in qualifying trim. Just got fortunate to hit a good lap right there and it came at a good time.”
Harvick is racing without his crew chief Rodney Childers after Childers was suspended earlier this week by NASCAR after the team was found to have used an illegal spoiler last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Tony Gibson will be Harvick’s crew chief this weekend and next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Chase Elliott, who needs to win in order to earn a place in the championship race, qualified second. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman completed the top-five in qualifying.
Playoff driver Kyle Busch qualified sixth, followed by Erik Jones, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano, who is the only driver who has clinched a place in the championship race at Homestead. Denny Hamlin completed the top-10 in qualifying.
Martin Truex Jr., who had his car chief ejected from ISM Raceway after his No. 78 Toyota failed pre-qualifying inspection three times, was the fourth fastest playoff driver in qualifying in 13th. Another playoff driver, Kurt Busch, qualified alongside Truex in 14th.
Clint Bowyer in 16th and Aric Almirola in 18th are the other playoff drivers in the 39-car field.