Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images via NASCAR

Kevin Harvick Leads Ford Sweep of Top Five Spots in Texas Qualifying

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Kevin Harvick needed a do-over in the second round of Friday’s knockout qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway, but putting the extra lap on his tires proved well worth the effort.
Harvick led not only the second round but also the first and third in winning the pole for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

“I just didn’t feel like I got through Turns 1 and 2 like I needed to,” Harvick said of his first attempt in the second round. “The front took off, and I didn’t want to do what everyone was doing in practice and get out of the groove and drive it into the wall.

“It’s been a stressful day, coming in and breaking in a new (resurfaced) race track and going out there running as fast as we had to run for qualifying.”

In the final round, Harvick secured his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, his second of the season and the 19th of his career with his fastest lap of the afternoon, covering the distance on the repaved and reconfigured speedway in 27.217 seconds (198.405 mph).

That was quick enough to edge Ryan Blaney (198.020 mph) for the top starting spot by .053 seconds. Blaney and Clint Bowyer ran identical times in the final round, with Blaney getting the nod for the second position on the basis of owner points.

“Man, I heard that they give you a shotgun when you win the pole here,” Blaney said of the coveted qualifying trophy. “I saw my lap and thought that might do it, but Kevin just snuck by us.
“I think I have a really fast Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. It was even good in race trim today. The track has come a long way in a few hours, and hopefully it will widen out even more for the XFINITY race (Saturday) and for our practices. Not a bad start to the weekend.”

Ford drivers swept the top five starting spots, in part because several of the strongest Chevrolets were out of the equation, having failed to clear pre-qualifying inspection in time to make qualifying runs in the first round.

Among the Chevy drivers missing in action were Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader Kyle Larson and the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne.

Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson had a different issue. Starting and then aborting a second lap in the first round, Johnson lost control through Turns 1 and 2 and spun, flat-spotting his tires. Since drivers must start the race on their qualifying tires, Johnson sat out the second and third rounds and will start 24th on Sunday.

“I think we used up all our good luck at Homestead last year,” who won his record-tying seventh title at the South Florida track. “I took the stripe, and we were in position to run two (laps) and see what was going to happen. (Crew chief) Chad (Knaus) called me off when he saw the time.
“When I heard that, I dumped the throttle real hard to try and check-up and roll through the center so I could go through the corner slowly; and when I dumped out of the throttle it pitched the car sideways and I started chasing it going into the turn. I thought I had it saved and then I got into all those marbles and kept getting closer to the wall and spun.”

In addition to Larson and the Hendrick drivers, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones did not advance through inspection in time to qualify. Both suffered accidents in Friday’s opening practice, with Jones going to a backup car and Busch’s crew attempting to repair the primary.

“We were just behind the eight ball, having to fix that car, so obviously we got in line really late and in our haste, we didn’t get our tech blocks set correctly, so we passed templates, passed the grid, passed undercar, passed everything except when we got to the scales, which is the very last thing,” said Adam Stevens, Busch’s crew chief.

“The wedge has to be within a certain number, and we were below that number. That’s just for tech – it’s not for on the race track – so the car was all set to go, and we didn’t get a chance to set our tech blocks because we were in such a hurry, so just an error on our part.”

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

1. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 198.405 mph.
2. (21) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 198.020 mph.
3. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 198.020 mph.
4. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 197.759 mph.
5. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 197.563 mph.
6. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 196.492 mph.
7. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 196.421 mph.
8. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 196.299 mph.
9. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 195.525 mph.
10. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 195.002 mph.
11. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 194.517 mph.
12. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 192.082 mph.
13. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 194.925 mph.
14. (13) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 194.847 mph.
15. (34) Landon Cassill, Ford, 194.707 mph.
16. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 194.377 mph.
17. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 194.084 mph.
18. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 193.861 mph.
19. (10) Danica Patrick, Ford, 193.715 mph.
20. (19) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 193.292 mph.
21. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 192.458 mph.
22. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 191.123 mph.
23. (83) Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 188.719 mph.
24. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 193.251 mph.
25. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 190.550 mph.
26. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 190.335 mph.
27. (7) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 189.793 mph.
28. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 189.195 mph.
29. (23) Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 188.265 mph.
30. (15) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 188.186 mph.
31. (33) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 182.852 mph.
32. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
33. (24) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
34. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
35. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
36. (77) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
37. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
38. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
39. (51) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
40. (55) Derrike Cope, Toyota, 0.000 mph.

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