Harvick claims Texas pole as nine cars miss qualifying
After a repave, Texas Motor Speedway proved a little slower on Friday but Kevin Harvick was fast enough to take the pole.
Harvick swept all three sessions of the knockout qualifying session and claimed the pole for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 with an average lap speed of 198.405 mph, saving the fastest lap of the day for the final round.
Ryan Blaney qualified second, Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Clint Bowyer was third, Joey Logano was fourth and Brad Keselowski was fifth as Ford Performance swept the top-five starting positions.
The pole is Harvick’s second of the season (he also won the pole at Atlanta) and the 19th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“I’m just really proud of everybody on our Ford. It’s been a stressful day – coming in and breaking in a new race track and then running as fast as we had to run in qualifying,” Harvick said.
“I have to say thank you to the Xfinity guys (at SHR) for letting me run that car this weekend. I really 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 and try to get in Victory Lane on Sunday so (track president) Eddie Gossage will leave me alone.”
Completing the top 12 starters: Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
“We don't feel good about anybody missing qualifying, but it is something that happens when teams are pushing the envelope. Teams know our expectations and every team was afforded the opportunity to go through inspection," said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR's vice president of officiating and technical inspection. "Some needed multiple tries and some weren't able to get their cars ready in time to qualify."
Ford Performance and Harvick dominated the second 10-minte round of qualifying as Harvick topped the session with an average lap speed of 197.751 mph – the fastest lap run of the day at that time.
Bowyer ended up second, Keselowski third, Logano fourth and Blaney fifth. Also advancing to the final round were Truex, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Newman, Stenhouse, McMurray and Bayne.
In all that round, Ford drivers swept the top five and eight of the top 12 positions.
Among those who failed to advance were Denny Hamlin, Danica Patrick and Jimmie Johnson elected not to make an attempt after spinning out in Round 1.
Michael McDowell just missed the cut, posting the 13th-fastest speed (194.925 mph).
“I’m disappointed we didn’t make it to Round 3, but that’s a good form of disappointment for us,” he said. “We have made a lot of progress this season.”
Harvick led the way in the first 20-minute round of qualifying, using an average lap speed of 195.901 mph to top his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Bowyer.
Bayne was third fastest, Keselowski was fourth and McMurray was fifth as Fords claimed three of the top-five speeds.
Nine cars failed to clear pre-qualifying inspection before the end of the first session – Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Kasey Kahne, Derrike Cope, Kyle Busch and Timmy Hill.
They will all start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
When the round began, less than 20 of the 40 cars entered in the race had completed pre-qualifying inspection.
“I don’t what the deal was, there was a lot of time between practice and qualifying for most of these teams,” Kyle Busch said. “We had to work on ours after practice.”
Busch spun and made light contact with the wall with his No. 18 Toyota in Friday’s practice session.
Shortly after posting the fourth-fastest speed in the session, Johnson spun out but did not appear to hit anything.
Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, immediately came over the team radio and said, “What the (expletive) happened?” Johnson replied, “The car spun.”
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