Harvick grabs Michigan pole with track record
Brooklyn, MI (SportsNetwork.com) – Kevin Harvick claimed his third pole of the season in the Sprint Cup Series after setting a new track qualifying record at Michigan International Speedway on Friday.
Harvick, in his first year as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, made a lap around this two-mile oval at a blazing speed of 204.557 mph during the third and final round of qualifying. He first broke the track record in the opening round when he posted a lap at 203.995 mph. The previous record here was 203.949 mph, set by Joey Logano in August 2013.
Harvick’s lap in Q3 was also the fastest pole-winning speed since April 1987 when Bill Elliott set the all-time qualifying record of 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR did not use restrictor plates on the engines for races at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway at the time.
“Really excited to start on the pole and get that first pit box, and hopefully, we can put the whole day together on Sunday,” Harvick said.
The third pole is a single-season high for Harvick. He started first and won the April race at Darlington and started up front and finished second at Kansas last month.
“My guys [No. 4 team] are doing a great job, and we just have to keep doing everything we’ve been doing,” he said. “We have fast race cars.”
Jeff Gordon, the current points leader, will start alongside Harvick after making a lap at 203.776 mph.
“You’ve got to take your hat off to Harvick and those guys,” Gordon said. “They are just super fast, especially when it comes to qualifying. We gave it a great effort but not quite enough to get those guys. But we’ll certainly take this second place and take it into Sunday with a lot of momentum and a lot of excitement.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won last Sunday’s race at Pocono, qualified third, giving Chevrolet the top-three starting positions.
Aric Almirola, in a Ford, took the fourth spot, while Paul Menard was fifth. Brad Keselowski, who hails from nearby Rochester Hills, Michigan, placed sixth.
Qualifying seventh through 12th were: Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Logano, who also won at this track last August, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray and rookie Kyle Larson.
Juan Pablo Montoya qualified 28th in what will be his first Sprint Cup start this season. Montoya, now a full-time competitor in the IndyCar Series, is driving a third car for Team Penske. He competed in Sprint Cup full-time from 2007-13.
“I know I’m really good here, and I think the more time we have to run, we’ll get a lot better,” Montoya said.
Ryan Truex was the only driver who failed to qualify for Sunday’s 400-mile race at Michigan, which is scheduled to start shortly after 1 p.m. ET.