Harvick Tops 204 MPH, Claims Michigan Pole
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick hit the afterburners during qualifying Friday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Harvick was fastest in all three rounds of knockout qualifying, but he hit a different level in the final round when he circled the two-mile oval in 35.198 seconds at 204.557 mph. Harvick’s lap was the fastest Sprint Cup qualifying lap since 1987, the fastest ever at a non-restrictor plate track and easily reset the Michigan track record.
“You just have to relax and really pay attention to not overdriving it because it is so easy to miss your line on entry to the corner,” said Harvick after his third pole of 2014. “I’ve just got to thank everybody on my Budweiser Chevrolet. I have to thank everybody from the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop. You put those two packages together and it creates a lot of speed.”
Jeff Gordon qualified second, followed by last week’s winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Aric Almirola and Paul Menard. The rest of the top 12 were Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.
Harvick’s led the second round of qualifying with a 35.470-second lap at 202.988 mph. Keselowski was second, McMurray third, Vickers fourth and Menard fifth.
Kasey Kahne, who was fastest in Friday’s practice session, failed to advance to the final round of qualifying. Others who failed to advance included Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.
Harvick also had the fastest lap in the first round of qualifying, leading the way with a 35.295-second lap at 203.995 mph. He was followed by Keselowski, Gordon, Larson and McMurray. Among those failing to advance past the first round were Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin.
Juan Pablo Montoya, making his return to NASCAR competition this weekend for Team Penske, qualified 28th in the No. 12 SKF Ford. Montoya is racing full-time for Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year.
Ryan Truex was the only driver who failed to qualify for Sunday’s race.