NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick on pole at Richmond

during the NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on April 12, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.
during the NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on April 12, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.


Kevin Harvick posted a 21.722-second/124.298 mph in the third of three rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on Friday to claim the provisional pole for Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400. Harvick’s latest pole, if it stands, makes him the first repeat pole sitter of 2019.

“For me, all three rounds went really good,” Harvick said. “We had a good race practice for a 30-lap run, there, at the beginning of practice. Obviously, it rained out the second practice. They did a good job with the car, and I didn’t really know, but the second lap ended up being our fastest lap. I just over drove the car, probably, the second and third lap. The first lap was probably the smoothest lap for me. I felt like I needed to roll a little more speed and wound up rolling too much speed, and it wound up being too much brake. The cars had a little fall off from a time standpoint, and I think it was really just managing the fall-off and be consistent with the laps. Stickers were definitely faster in the first round than they were the second and third round.”

Post-qualifying/pre-race inspection isn’t until Saturday afternoon. Qualifying results will become official then.

All three manufacturers are represented in the top-three race starting spots with Erik Jones qualifying his Toyota in the second position to start on the front row, next to Harvick’s Ford. And Kurt Busch’s Chevrolet with start third.

“I thought it was three good runs,” Busch said. “The car had a good bit of rear grip to it, which has been our struggle, so I’m really happy that today’s practice run and the qualifying runs today showed us that the car’s got the grip level. Now, we just need to make sure the balance stays with it. We’re just trying to be more consistent and not have any weak areas, and I think the changes they made, we’re trying to adjust to the weaker areas. So that should help us.”

NASCAR abbreviated Friday evening’s qualifying session, cutting the first two rounds in half by slashing the time clock from 10 to five minutes in each of those rounds.

“It was really just more congestion,” Harvick said. “I think when you come to a place like this with everyone running three or four laps, it is hard to get 40 cars going in the first round, or however many cars are here, 35 or 40 or whatever it is. To get those cars to run three or four laps, you run into traffic ,and it becomes more congested than it probably needs to be in the first round. The second and third rounds were fine.”

In the shortened first round, Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Busch and Kyle Larson were tops, with Busch turning in the fastest lap, overall, of the qualifying session at 21.460 seconds/125.815 mph.

While Busch advanced all the way through the final round for a top-three starting spot, Larson’s qualifying efforts ended in the second round. He wound up 14th after posting the fastest lap time in the only practice session and running second to his teammate int he opening round of qualifying.

“I just felt tighter each run or each lap, and then the second round there, I was just a little too tight in the center to roll speed. So I had the feeling I’d be that way once the track got some rubber, and sure enough, we were just a little too tight,” Larson said.

The second round of qualifying was led by Busch’s younger brother and the Cup series’ winningest driver, so far, of 2019 — Kyle Busch — with a 21.640-second/124.769 mph lap. Eventual pole sitter Harvick was second to the younger Busch in round two.

Joey Logano qualified fourth, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five in the final round of qualifying to claim the provisional fifth spot on the race starting grid.

Below, is the complete starting grid for the Toyota Owners 400:

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