Kevin Harvick turned in a lap of 28.796 seconds at Kansas Speedway from behind the wheel of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet on Friday to claim the pole starting spot for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. It's Harvick's first Sprint Cup pole since September 2006.
"It's been forever. I think 2006," Harvick said. "The most exciting thing is just the first pit stall."
The No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified second to start on the front row next to Harvick on Sunday with a lap time of 28.803 seconds. The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson qualified third and the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski qualified fourth to share the second row on the starting grid. Keselowski was the only driver not among the Chase for the Sprint Cup field to claim a top-five starting spot. Fifth with to Keselowski's Penske teammate, Joey Logano in the No. 22 Ford.
Speeds were much slower at Kansas on Friday compared the qualifying speeds at the track the last time the Sprint Cup Series visited the facility in April. The slower speeds were at least partly due to a new tire technology. Goodyear brought a multi-zone tread right-side tire to Kansas Speedway. The only other time the Sprint Cup Series has utilized a multi-zone tread tire was in September at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"I think I like the tire we had last time a little better," Stenhouse said. "It had a little more grip."
Throughout the first quarter of the qualifying session, the provisional pole changed hands several times. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Johnson each briefly spent time atop the scoring pylon before Stenhouse knocked Johnson off the provisional pole.
Stenhouse held the top position in qualifying for a while, until Harvick, who went out 28th, made his qualifying lap to claim the coveted spot and hold it through the remainder of the qualifying session.
Despite a rare pole, Harvick acknowledged that his lap wasn't perfect.
"Just getting into turn three all day has been a little sketchy for us," Harvick said. "Still didn't get through there very good, but I guess its good enough for now."
Only forty-three cars made qualifying attempts, so all who made laps during Friday's qualifying session received spots on the starting grid for Sunday. Qualifying sixth through 10th were Earnhardt, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth, the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard, the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin.