Kevin Harvick rules the day, sweeping qualifying at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 02: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford, qualifies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 2, 2017 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. – The last time Kevin Harvick started on the pole at Darlington, he won the Southern 500. He’s on pace to do that again, as Saturday he drove his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to the top of each of the three rounds of qualifying to grab the pole for this year’s running of the Southern 500 Sunday.

“It’s been a good start to the weekend for us and the car is driving good and we w’re able to put three laps together,” Harvick said.  “Everything is going well.”

Harvick put down a lap of 27.669 seconds, 177.730 miles per hour just over two minutes into the final five-minute round for his fourth of the season, the 21st of his career and his second at Darlington; the last coming in 2014, when he went onto win his first, and to date only, Southern 500.

“Track position is never a disadvantage no matter if it’s high tire wear, low tire wear.” the biggest advantage here is the first pit stall because the timing line is so close to the pit exit there with the first stall.  So that’s really the biggest advantage.  I think if your car is handling good, you can make your way through traffic, but having that first pit stall if you car is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop and hopefully keep that track position all night.  That’s really the biggest advantage.”

Martin Truex Jr., last year’s Southern 500 winner, will again start on the front row; something he has done six times this season. Kyle Busch, who was fastest in final practice Friday will start third, Kyle Larson, and Jamie McMurray make up the top five.

“That was definitely a good, successful qualifying session for us.” Truex said. “It – we thought we were off a little bit the first round then just kept working on the car and kind of adjusted the driving style a little throughout all three rounds and we ended up second. So seems like we’ve been second a lot this year and it’s been a good number for us and hopefully it’ll be a good one tomorrow night.”

Harvick, who was second fastest in that final practice Friday, had the speed Saturday sweeping all three of the rounds Saturday.

Brad Keselowski will roll off sixth followed by Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones 10th. Matt Kenseth and Ryan Blaney will start 11th and 12th respectively.

Dale Earnhardt his final Darlington race as full-time driver will start 22nd.

With 40 drivers for 40 spots, no one was sent home.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Southern 500 will be shown live on the NBC Sports Network at 6:00 p.m. ET, Sunday night.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.