FORT WORTH, Texas – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick admittedly are pushing each other around in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, a mindset that produced a 1-2 qualifying sweep Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch knocked Harvick off P1 with under a minute remaining in Round 3 of time trials to claim his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season and first at TMS for Saturday night’s 19th annual Duck Commander 500 (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Busch toured the high-banked, 1.5-mile TMS quad-oval in 27.857-seconds (193.847 mph) to post his third top-10 start in four races and the 18th pole of his career. Busch also qualified on-pole at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, with Harvick alongside in Row 1.
Harvick’s best lap of 27.875-seconds at 193.722 mph was a miniscule 0.018-seconds behind his teammate.
“It feels good to post a lap at Texas and take home a pole award,” said Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS. “Texas is fast. The way the new (knockout) qualifying format works, you have to do it three times. (Crew chief) Tony Gibson is amazing with his adjustments…and when you have everybody adding-in and not second-guessing you can get everything out of a race car. It’s a good feeling to have a fast car at Texas.”
Harvick, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, settled for his career-best start at TMS. “I feel really good about where the car is,” said Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. “We spent all but one run in race trim (in two practices). I slipped in (Turns) 1 and 2 and got loose and got gun-shy in (Turns) 3 and 4. But I feel like we all get better every week and that’s what we need to do.”
Harvick, in fact, said Busch has been a major factor in the team’s progress since returning from a NASCAR-mandated three-race suspension over alleged domestic abuse at the start of the season.
“It’s good to have his feedback because Kurt is really good with the cars, really understands what he wants to do and what’s going on,” said Harvick, a two-time winner this season. “He understands the setup sheets and looks at the tires and pays attention to everything that’s going on. When you have that type of feedback it just helps everybody push things along. And when you have common problems you can solve those problems…nit-pick those problems and fix those problems faster. This is my third year working with Kurt and I’ve enjoyed how much he is in-tune with the cars. We have the same focus and goal, and that’s to try to run fast and win races.”
Busch said the entire SHR stable, including three-time NSCS champion/team co-owner Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick, is in a pushy mode.
“It’s great to get a couple poles; he’s (Harvick) got a couple wins,” Busch said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us to keep up with his pace. But it’s great to push each other and have the information go back and forth cleanly.”
Brad Keselowski, the 2012 NSCS champion, qualified third at 193.195 mph in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion fielded by Team Penske. Birthday boy Kasey Kahne will start fourth after a lap at 192.933 mph in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS fielded by Hendrick Motorsports. Six-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, Kahne’s HMS teammate, rounded-out the top five at 192.424 mph in the No. 48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS. And Joey Logano, the reigning Daytona 500 champion and winner of last year’s rain-delayed spring race here, qualified sixth at 192.369 mph in the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford fielded by Roger Penske.
Harvick, meanwhile, will attempt to break an 0-for-24 record at TMS during Saturday night’s 334-lap/501-miler. He’s coming off a second-place finish to Johnson in last November’s AAA Texas 500 with blinders on.
“This is one we’ve circled we want to win,” Harvick said. “The biggest thing is I want to win here so Eddie Gossage (TMS president) will leave me alone. You come to a track where you haven’t won at—and we’ve been fortunate to knock a lot off the list in the last year or so—it’s a race we’ve definitely circled to start the year.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Duck Commander 500
- (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 193.847 mph.
- (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 193.722 mph.
- (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 193.195 mph.
- (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 192.933 mph.
- (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 192.424 mph.
- (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 192.369 mph.
- (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 192.253 mph.
- (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 192.109 mph.
- (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 192.048 mph.
- (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 191.721 mph.
- (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 191.489 mph.
- (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 189.547 mph.
- (21) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 192.273 mph.
- (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 192.267 mph.
- (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 192.232 mph.
- (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 191.973 mph.
- (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 191.918 mph.
- (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 191.884 mph.
- (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 191.768 mph.
- (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 191.421 mph.
- (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 191.096 mph.
- (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 190.880 mph.
- (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 190.523 mph.
- (51) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 190.483 mph.
- (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 192.068 mph.
- (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 191.966 mph.
- (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 191.639 mph.
- (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 191.530 mph.
- (9) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 191.483 mph.
- (18) David Ragan, Toyota, 191.455 mph.
- (35) Cole Whitt, Ford, 191.367 mph.
- (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 191.340 mph.
- (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 191.340 mph.
- (7) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 191.245 mph.
- (98) Josh Wise, Ford, 190.988 mph.
- (55) Brett Moffitt #, Toyota, 190.894 mph.
- (32) Mike Bliss(i), Ford, Owner Points
- (38) David Gilliland, Ford, Owner Points
- (95) Michael McDowell, Ford, Owner Points
- (34) Chris Buescher(i), Ford, Owner Points
- (23) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, Owner Points
- (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Owner Points
- (33) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, Owner Points
2 drivers failed to qualify.
- (62) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 190.027 mph.
- (26) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 189.507 mph.
John Sturbin – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway