NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick on pole at Atlanta
Kevin Harvick claims a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 3, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kevin Harvick posted a 29.118-second/190.398 mph lap in the third of three rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway to claim the pole for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the track. It’s Harvick’s second pole at Atlanta.
“We didn’t spend very much time at all on qualifying today,” Harvick said. “We really concentrated on trying to get our race stuff right. I think as we had a couple hours to work on it, there, we were able to dial the setup in and made it better in every round. I was able to see the last round going into turn one. The first two rounds, that sun was so bright. I am really excited to get our first pole with Ford.”
Harvick will share the front row on Sunday with Ryan Newman, a seven-time pole sitter at AMS.
“Well, it’s big,” Newman said. “I’m just proud of everybody at RCR and ECR with this Caterpillar Chevrolet. We were so close. I really wanted to beat my old buddy, Buddy Baker’s, record (of most poles at Atlanta); been tied with him for awhile, so that was kind of rough. But I’m just proud of the guys and proud of the effort. It is the litmus test for us for a lot of the rest of the season. It was a good start for sure.”
Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five in Friday’s qualifying session.
“It was alright, not what we wanted, but close enough,” Busch said. “Just kept getting tighter as the rounds kept going, so just didn’t have enough adjustment in the car for that, but the guys did a great job giving me a fast car.”
Newman and Busch were the fastest two in each of the first two rounds of qualifying. Newman turned in the fastest lap in the second round, with a 29.214-second/189.772 mph lap of record. Busch was second to Newman in that round. Those roles were reversed in the opening round, with Busch posting a fast lap of 29.136 seconds/190.280 mph.
The combination of the new lower-downforce aerodynamic package and changes to NASCAR’s inspection process resulted in many teams having difficulty getting their cars through inspection. Several cars didn’t get through inspection and on pit road until after the start of the first round of qualifying. Five drivers — Jeffrey Earnhardt, Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt, Derrike Cope and Cody Ware — failed to make a single qualifying lap.
Only 39 cars were on the entry list, though, so all who entered garnered spots on the starting grid, with the grid one car short of a full race field.
Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
Row 1 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 3 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 4 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 6 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 8 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 9 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 12 — Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford), Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Landon Cassill (No. 34 Ford), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford)
Row 16 — Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota), Corey LaJoie (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 17 — Reed Sorenson (No. 15 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 38 Ford)
Row 18 — Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 33 Chevrolet), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Cole Whitt (No. 72 Chevrolet), Derrike Cope (No. 55 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Cody Ware (No. 51 Chevrolet)