NSCS: Check One Off the List; Harvick Scores Long-Awaited Coors Light Pole at Phoenix

Ryan O'Hara Featured, NASCAR, West 0 Comments

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Report by Race Chaser Online West Coast Correspondent Ryan O’Hara — Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America photo —

For defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, there is not much he has not accomplished at Phoenix International Raceway.

However, there is one thing Harvick had not yet done — until Friday night.

The six-time NSCS Phoenix winner claimed his first career Coors Light Pole at the 1-mile race track nicknamed the “Jewel in the Desert” during Friday’s knockout qualifying session, posting a lap of 140.751 mph (25.577 seconds) in the final round to claim his 15th career pole at NASCAR’s top level.

“It’s exciting for everybody, just to be a part of this No. 4 team,” said Harvick. “It’s pretty special to be part of a group of guys like this.”

When asked about the secret to beating him at Phoenix in the post-qualifying press conference, Harvick coyly cited a team effort as a major factor. During the exchange, outside polesitter Logano yelled, “Tell us the secret,” to the laughter of many.

“This is a science project nowadays,” Harvick said of finding continuing success at any one track (or at NASCAR’s top level).

On the other hand, Harvick also added that strategy and mistakes can always play a factor –despite the fact he has won four out of the last five Phoenix races.

Logano, who rolls off second on Sunday after posting a quick lap of 140.543 mph (25.615 seconds), was quick to jump on Harvick’s answer — with sarcasm and a plan in mind.

“I don’t know if you noticed his answer, but the only way he can get beat is by screwing up,” Logano responded. “He is human like everyone else, though, so we do have a chance.”

“Every time you are behind him, you watch and see what he’s doing differently, whether he is doing any better or worse, and you communicate about it,” Logano added. “You work as a team. That is what this 22 team is all about. There is no superstar on our team. We are all equal. I don’t come into this racetrack thinking I’m defeated before I walk in here. I come to every track thinking I can win the race. You know (Harvick) is going to be tough. We’ve been close here the last two or three years to winning this thing, so I still feel very confident coming into Phoenix.”

Behind the front row, Jamie McMurray (140.422/25.637), Matt Kenseth (140.072/25.701) and Ryan Newman (139.833/25.745) completed the fast five on the grid for Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500. Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski clocked in sixth fastest, just ahead of Carl Edwards.

Kurt Busch starts eighth in his first race back after being indefinitely suspended by NASCAR just 48 hours prior to the Daytona 500, and behind him Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon round out the top ten starters. Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson completed the list of a dozen drivers who advanced to the final round of qualifying.

Notables who did not advance to the final round included David Ragan (13th), who continues to sub for the injured Kyle Busch; Dale Earnhardt Jr. (16th); Tony Stewart (17th) and four-time Phoenix winner Jimmie Johnson (20th).

Flat track expert Denny Hamlin, who won at PIR in 2012, did not advance past the opening round of qualifying and will roll from 25th on the grid on Sunday.

Two drivers failed to qualify for Sunday’s race: Travis Kvapil and Tanner Berryhill.

With the grid set, Sprint Cup teams will take to the track for two rounds of practice on Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. The CampingWorld.com 500 will take the green flag on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern (12:30 p.m. local), live on FOX.

 

RESULTS: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Phoenix International Raceway; March 13, 2015

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Jamie McMurray
  4. Matt Kenseth
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Kasey Kahne
  10. Jeff Gordon
  11. Austin Dillon
  12. Kyle Larson
  13. David Ragan
  14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  15. Martin Truex Jr.
  16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  17. Tony Stewart
  18. Brian Vickers
  19. Greg Biffle
  20. Jimmie Johnson
  21. Paul Menard
  22. A.J. Allmendinger
  23. Danica Patrick
  24. Casey Mears
  25. Denny Hamlin
  26. Alex Bowman
  27. Sam Hornish Jr.
  28. Justin Allgaier
  29. David Gilliland
  30. Clint Bowyer
  31. Michael Annett
  32. Aric Almirola
  33. Landon Cassill
  34. Josh Wise
  35. Matt DiBenedetto
  36. Trevor Bayne
  37. Mike Bliss
  38. Brett Moffitt
  39. Cole Whitt
  40. J.J. Yeley
  41. Jeb Burton
  42. Brendan Gaughan
  43. Alex Kennedy

DNQ: Travis Kvapil, Tanner Berryhill

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