NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick takes final pole of 2016
Kevin Harvick (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kevin Harvick was eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup last weekend at Phoenix International Speedway, the track that had looked like his personal playground in recent years, but he rebounded on Friday by claiming his first pole at Homestead-Miami Speedway, turning in a 30.399-second/177.637 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, the 2016 season-finale.
“I am just so proud of everybody on this Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team,” Harvick said. “They want to come to the race track and bring good race cars and perform well. Just real proud of that.”
Friday’s pole is Harvick’s second pole of the season.
Another former Chaser, Brad Keselowski, was second-fastest in the final round of qualifying to claim the other front-row starting spot.
“It’s kind of fitting that it’s the 4 (Harvick) and 2 (Keselowski) in the front row,” Keselowski said. “I think we’ve been the two best cars all year. We might not be in the Chase, but it kind of shows the strength of those two teams.”
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were the highest-qualifying among the Championship Four, just barely cracking the top-10 in qualifying to take the ninth and 10th positions on the starting grid.
The other two remaining Chase drivers, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson, failed to make the final round of qualifying. At the end of the second round of qualifying, Logano was relegated to the 13th and Johnson the 14th starting spots.
“I don’t know (what happened),” Logano said. “We just missed it a little bit. I am not really sure. I don’t have the answer for you right now. We have to think about it a little bit. We want to be faster than that, obviously. It is okay, though. We are not that far back. We have a long race, and it is easy to pass, so we will work our way up.”
Ryan Newman qualified third, Denny Hamlin was fourth, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five in qualifying. Elliott was fastest in each of the first two rounds, posting a 30.217-second/178.707 mph lap in the opening round and a 30.243-second/178.554 mph lap in the second round. Elliott’s first-round lap was the fastest, overall, of the qualifying session.
Here is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
Row 1 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 2 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 3 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 4 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 5 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 6 — Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 10 — Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 11 — Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford)
Row 12 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Michael McDowell (No. 59 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 49 Toyota), Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford)
Row 17 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet), Ty Dillon (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 19 — Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Toyota), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 20 — Dylan Lupton (No. 32 Ford), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
DNQ (Did Not Qualify) — Gray Gaulding