Kevin Harvick will be looking for redemption Sunday night. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver put his Ford on the pole Friday for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600; his third of the season and the 20th of his career.
Harvick put down his pole winning lap of 27.918 seconds, 193.424 mph just over two minutes into the final five minutes Friday. It’s the second consecutive pole for Harvick at Charlotte, he scored his first career Charlotte pole when the series visited last fall; a race that saw him finish 38th after engine issues. He started eighth in this race last year and finished second.
“The cars in qualifying were a lot looser than they were in practice and just based on past experience here it was a handful through one and two,” Harvick, who also led the second round of qualifying said. “I just about lost it the first run, but the car was so good in three and four I didn’t want to overadjust on it and make it too tight down there because you get tighter as the lap runs, so the guys did a good job of making adjustments, but not making it so tight that I couldn’t carry the throttle like I needed to in three and four. ”
Kyle Busch, who won the All-Star race last Saturday for his first and only Cup win at the 1.5-mile track, and led Friday night’s first round, will start second followed by Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer and defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Martin Truex Jr. fifth.
“We were kind of the fastest guys there through the beginning part of practice and then everybody else kind of caught up to us there,” Busch said. “But overall great run for us. Shows that we have the potential, we just need to put it all together.
Kyle Larson, who won the pole for the All-Star race, was one of two drivers who were held up in pre-qualifying inspection long enough to miss the first session. The other was Corey LaJoie.
“We’ll start last instead of from the pole,” Larson said. “I guess I’m upset at myself for getting into the wall in practice there because it put us behind on getting to the tech line. We still failed a couple of times. The machine wouldn’t work there, late, and it cost us a minute or minute and a half, and we actually passed. But we didn’t have enough time to get out there. Had the machine worked, maybe we would have made it out there for that round. I don’t know. I won’t speak too much on it because I don’t know much about how that whole tech process works. I know all the teams hate it. The teams point at NASCAR. NASCAR points at the teams. It’s confusing to me.”
NASCAR officials were quick to say that there were no issues with their machine.
Pole winner at Kansas two weeks prior, Ryan Blaney will start sixth, followed by Kurt Busch, Erik Jones who led practice earlier Friday, Matt Kenseth, and Brad Keselowski. Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurry were the final drivers to advance and will start 11th and 12th respectively.
With 40 entrants for 40 spots no cars were sent home.