Kasey Kahne conquers Kevin Harvick for the Michigan pole
Eleven cars post laps of over 200 miles per hour in the final round of qualifying for the Quicken Loans 400.
Kasey Kahne ended Kevin Harvick’s dominance in time trials at Michigan International Speedway on Friday.
Kahne posted a lap of 201.992 mph to knock Harvick from the top spot by 0.067-seconds. It's the second time in as many races that Harvick has led the first to rounds only to lose out in the final session.
Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top six in the final round of time trials for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.
“Good adjustments, guys, I over drove,” Kahne said following the 35.645-second lap — but it was solid enough to hold on for his first pole of 2015, his third at Michigan and 27th career Cup pole overall. It was also the first pole for Kahne under the direction of crew chief Keith Rodden.
“I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 pretty good,” Kahne added, who earned his first pole since the fall race at Kansas in 2012. “I just got a little free but was able to stay in it. And then in (Turn) 3 I was like man, I was a little loose there and I’ve been back-pedaling more than I wanted to. So, I pushed harder in (Turn) 3 and I started to kind of slide the nose, so I had to backpedal and go back down.
“I knew it killed my exit a little, but it was still a great lap. Our Great Clips Chevrolet has had speed all three runs, so I knew we’d have a shot today, so that was cool. It’s been a while since we’ve had a pole.”
Blaney made the most of his opportunity to qualify. Due to the Wood Brothers running a partial schedule and 44 teams attempting to make the show, the No. 21 Ford would have gone home based on owner points. Still, the Team Penske protege insists he did not do a rain dance to keep Mother Nature at bay.
“I don’t dance too much but I was hoping,” Blaney said. “Luckily, it cleared out for us. It was funny the way it played out. It looked like two cells coming at us and a small slit in the middle of them and we passed right through that slit. That was just kind of lucky for us. Like I said, it would have stung knowing how good of a car we had in practice if qualifying rained out. We are fortunate to get it in and it is a bonus to have a good race car in it.”
Jeff Gordon led the second six qualifiers with a time of 35.823-seconds. Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth will make up rows three through six.
Kahne became the ninth different pole winners in 2015. He believes his track position will benefit him on Sunday.
“It’s going to be really important,” Kahne said. “The track is going to change a lot, though, come Sunday, with all the racing going on this weekend and then our practices tomorrow. The track will be a lot different Sunday. So, there will be some passing for sure, but it’s not going to be easy. So, track position will play a big role in being there at the end of the race.”
Eleven cars exceeded the 200 mile per hour mark in the second round. Harvick, who led first practice, notched the top lap of 201.952 mph.
"Really happy with it in one and two," Harvick said of the car's balance "Three and four, I don't know if it's because the wind's blowing or not blowing but it's different every time I go through 3 and 4.”
Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were the fastest six cars. Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon rounded out the 12 cars that transferred to the final round.
“Not as good as we thought our car was capable of,” said Denny Hamlin, who was bumped by Dillon and will start 13th on Sunday.
“We weren’t holding the throttle down as much as the other guys,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified 14th. But I think we’ll race good. This place is a lot of fun.”
Although Kurt Busch qualified into the second round in the secondary No. 41 Haas Automation Chevy — after damaging his primary car in first practice — he could only must the 24th fastest time.
Crew chief Tony Gibson complimented the team for their hard work.
Hell, that was a lot of work in a short amount of time.
“Thank you guys for getting that car turned around,” Gibson said. "Hell, that was a lot of work in a short amount of time.”
Harvick started time trials by posting the fast lap of 201.410 mph early in the round. Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. Ryan Blaney, who had to qualify to make the show, ran a lap of 199.534 mph for sixth quick followed by Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Austin Dillon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Brendan Gaughan failed to make the show.
Complete Starting Grid
|Cla||No.||Driver||Car / Engine||Time||Margin|
|9||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||35.896||0.251|
|30||9||Sam Hornish Jr.||Ford||36.788||1.143|
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About this article
|Drivers||Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Ryan Blaney|
|Teams||Team Penske , Stewart-Haas Racing , Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing , Wood Brothers Racing|
|Article type||Qualifying report|