NSCS: Happy Day; Harvick Backs Up Practice Time by Winning Pole at Charlotte

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Kevin Harvick celebrates his first pole of the season during Bojangles' Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday. (Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR photo)

Kevin Harvick celebrates his first pole of the season during Bojangles’ Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday.
(Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR photo)

CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick picked up in the evening where he left off in the afternoon, following his fast time in practice by claiming the pole position during Bojangles’ Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick ran a full three miles per hour faster in the evening than he did in the afternoon, setting a time of 27.547 seconds (196.029 mph) to start up front for Saturday’s Bank of America 500 ( 7 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM).

“I’m honestly not surprised that it took us this long to get a pole this year, mostly because we just haven’t had the speed on Fridays this year like we did last year,” Harvick said. “We’ve struggled in that aspect, but the guys on this team have kept working at it and gotten us better as the season’s gone on.”

“It’s been a process, but this is definitely the best car we’ve had this season in qualifying and I think it showed tonight,” added the 2014 Bank of America 500 winner. “The goal now is simple: we want to use this to go out and get a win on Saturday night. If we can do that, it would certainly bring my blood pressure down over the next two weeks, for sure.”

Alex Bowman laid down the fastest speed of the night in Round 2 with a 196.200, but was unable to match that in the final round of qualifying, posting a time of 27.551 seconds. However, he was the only other car to break the 196 mph barrier and will start second on Saturday night.

“Qualifying second, this is definitely one of the best cars we’ve ever had,” Bowman said. “I think at Michigan, we had a solid chance at the win too before a mechanical failure that was really unfortunate, but it was a little bit easier to be confident there because we had so much more practice.”

“We don’t know what we’re gonna get tomorrow, and when we unloaded, we were a little bit off, so I’m really interested to see what our car is gonna do in race trim. We made those changes on older tires and we didn’t really get enough time to put another set of tires on and see how it was gonna go throughout the full course of a run, so I’m very interested to see how strong our car is. But starting up front in clean air is always helpful!”

Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, put the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet in the third position, while Kyle Busch had the fastest Toyota and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five by being the fastest of the non-Chase drivers.

A.J. Allmendinger posted his second-best qualifying effort ever at Charlotte with a sixth-place run, and put Chevrolet in possession of five of the six fastest times. Coca-Cola 600 winner Martin Truex Jr. will start seventh, followed by the Joe Gibbs pairing of Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin. Joey Logano put the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford in 10th to be the top-qualifying driver for that manufacturer.

Elsewhere, four Chase drivers missed the cutoff in Round 2 and did not advance to the final round of qualifying: Matt Kenseth, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, and Kurt Busch. Those four will start in 17th, 19th, 20th and 23rd, respectively.

Keselowski said afterwards that his team had spent more time in practice focusing on setting up the car in race trim rather than qualifying trim, and was really happy with the way his car felt in the former. He is confident that he will be able to drive to the front of the field once the green flag drops. Dillon, on the other hand, just said that his car was way too loose in Round 2, and that the No. 3 crew will work to fix that issue for the race.

Having qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup before being eliminated last weekend at Dover, Kyle Larson was disappointed to be knocked out of qualifying in Round 1. Larson said that he hoped Hurricane Matthew pays a visit to the speedway and rains on the track, because he believes that his car would run better if the race had to be delayed to Sunday afternoon, when the track is slicker.

The Sprint Cup Series has two more practice sessions scheduled for 3:30 and 6:30 pm ET tomorrow, though rain could threaten to cancel those sessions. Should the weather hold, those practices will be televised on NBCSN.

RESULTS: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series; Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Charlotte Motor Speedway; Oct. 6, 2016

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Chase Elliott
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. A.J. Allmendinger
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Carl Edwards
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. Joey Logano
  11. Jimmie Johnson
  12. Kasey Kahne
  13. Danica Patrick
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  16. Jamie McMurray
  17. Matt Kenseth
  18. Ryan Blaney
  19. Austin Dillon
  20. Brad Keselowski
  21. Ryan Newman
  22. Michael McDowell
  23. Kurt Busch
  24. Matt DiBenedetto
  25. Kyle Larson
  26. Chris Buescher
  27. Trevor Bayne
  28. Paul Menard
  29. Casey Mears
  30. Brian Scott
  31. Clint Bowyer
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Aric Almirola
  34. David Ragan
  35. Regan Smith
  36. Cole Whitt
  37. Michael Annett
  38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  39. Reed Sorenson
  40. Josh Wise

 

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