Friday at Kansas Speedway was the place to be for Stewart-Haas Racing, as Kevin Harvick prevailed through three rounds of knockout qualifying to capture the pole for Saturday night’s 5-Hour Energy 400.
All three of Harvick’s SHR teammates were fast, too, with Kurt Busch qualifying sixth, Tony Stewart eighth and Danica Patrick ninth. It was an impressive performance for the SHR squad, which roundly outperformed Hendrick Motorsports, the team from which it buys its engines and chassis.
Harvick was the fastest of the 12 cars in the final round of time trials at the 1.5-mile track, turning a lap of 194.252 miles per hour in his SHR Chevrolet. It is only the second time in Harvick’s career he’s earned multiple poles in a season. All told, the veteran now has eight poles in 477 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
"The pole is great, these guys have done a great job for qualifying," said Harvick. "It makes life a lot easier when you can have pit stall one. Hopefully, we can have a good night tomorrow night, but the weekend has gone good. We had a great test here a few weeks ago, and everything has carried right over."
Qualifying behind Harvick were the Team Penske Fords of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, followed by Carl Edwards in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Kyle Larson in a Chip Ganassi-owned Chevrolet.
For second-qualifier Logano, it was sixth top-five qualifying effort of the season.
"Overall it is a good starting spot, and we are qualifying well," said Logano. "If you count out the restrictor-plate stuff, we are still the only car to make it through every session, and we are proud of that and ready to go for another win."
Keselowski said the track was basically one groove and he didn’t think it would improve much for the race.
"It is always interesting to see tracks that widen out top to bottom," said the 2012 Sprint Cup champion. "I think that is the best racing we have. I don’t expect to see that this weekend."
From the start of the session, the SHR Chevys were whippet-quick.
Harvick also set the fast time in the second round, with a track record speed of 194.658 mph.
Among the 12 drivers who didn’t make it out of Round Two were Kyle Busch, who will start 24th, and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (22nd), Kasey Kahne (17th), Jimmie Johnson (14th) and Jeff Gordon (13th). None of the Toyota drivers made it to the final round.
Fastest in the first round was Kurt Busch, who ran 193.611 mph in his No. 41 SHR Chevy. Drivers who weren’t among the top 24 to advance to the second round of qualifying included last week’s winner, Denny Hamlin, in 30th, and defending Kansas winner Matt Kenseth, who was 28th.
With 44 cars entered in the race, the only driver who failed to qualify was Dave Blaney. On the other hand, Blaney’s son, Ryan, successfully qualified 21st for his first Sprint Cup start.