Kevin Harvick on Darlington Cup Pole
DARLINGTON, SC - RIS - Kevin Harvick swept all three rounds in qualifying to win the pole for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Harvick took the top spot in the final round with a lap of 27.669 seconds, 177.730 mph for his fourth pole of the season.
The pole will give Harvick a great pit stall as he looks to give Ford its first win at Darlington since 2006. Harvick last won at Darlington in 2014 from the pole when he was driving a Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
"The biggest advantage here is the first pit stall because the timing line is so close to the pit exit there with the first stall," Harvick said. "So that’s really the biggest advantage. I think if your car is handling good, you can make your way through traffic, but having that first pit stall if you car is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop and hopefully keep that track position all night."
Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. qualified second for his best start at Darlington in his 12th start. Last year, he won the race from the eighth position.
"That was definitely a good, successful qualifying session for us," Truex said. "It – we thought we were off a little bit the first round then just kept working on the car and kind of adjusted the driving style a little throughout all three rounds and we ended up second. So seems like we’ve been second a lot this year and it’s been a good number for us and hopefully it’ll be a good one tomorrow night.”
Kyle Busch, the 2008 winner, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five.
Jimmie Johnson, a three-time Darlington winner, was the top Hendrick Motorsports driver in qualifying, in 18th.
"It takes so much out of the tires to improve a handful of spots just isn’t worth the laps," Johnson said. "Really you go out complete a lap and then an in so it’s essentially three laps on the tires and of all tracks not to do that, this is the one, unless you have a shot to run in that top 12. So, not where we wanted to qualify, but the car is driving a lot better than it did yesterday and that will transition into a better race for us."
Harvick has already qualified for the season championship playoffs due to his win at Sonoma this summer.
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.