Kevin Harvick speeds to pole for Texas Playoff race

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer/Ducks Unlimited Ford, poses with the Pole Award after posting the quickest lap during the Salute to Veterans Qualifying Day Fueled by The Texas Lottery for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 02, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick took the first step toward getting back on the right side of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cut line Saturday, winning the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Harvick, who trails fourth-place Joey Logano by 14 points entering the second race of the Round of 8, toured the 1.5-mile track in 28.465 seconds (189.707 mph) to win his second Busch Pole Award at Texas, his series-best sixth of the season and the 31st of his career.

Erik Jones, already eliminated from the Playoffs, was second fastest at 188.890 mph, .123 seconds behind Harvick. Denny Hamlin, second in the Playoff standings, qualified third at 188.12 mph, followed by Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Aric Almirola.

“The best part is our car drove really well in race trim yesterday and still had a lot of speed when we put it in qualifying trim today,” said Harvick, winner of the last two Playoff races at Texas. “So, hopefully, we can keep our track position.

“As you saw the last race (at Texas), you want to be up front and you want to be on the right cycle of rotation of pit strategy. Having that first pit stall is definitely an advantage here. It will be a track position game, and hopefully we can play it right and keep ourselves up front.”

Logano will start 11th in his attempt to protect his position in the standings. Other Playoff drivers earned the following positions on the grid: Kyle Busch 12th, Kyle Larson 13th, Chase Elliott 14th, Ryan Blaney 15th and Martin Truex Jr. 17th.

Truex has already qualified for the Nov. 17 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway by virtue of last Sunday’s victory at Martinsville.

After a broken axle and a 36th-place finish at Martinsville, Elliott trails Logano by 44 points and likely must win one of the next two races to advance to the Championship 4.

In a substitute role for Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft, who suffered a seizure last Saturday at Martinsville,. John Hunter Nemechek qualified 29th.

“That was the first qualifying run I have ever done in a Cup car,” Nemechek said. “It was pretty interesting. We went faster today than we did yesterday. That is a positive. We’re getting faster every time on the race track. It’s a whole new deal for myself, being over here in the Cup garage. Different scenarios, a whole new team. Different communications. A lot of variables that play into this weekend.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity from (owner) Bob (Jenkins) and everyone at Front Row Motorsports. I hate that the circumstances are like this. I really wish Matt Tifft a speedy recovery and hope he is back at the race track very soon.”

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Results AAA Texas 500

Texas Motor Speedway

Fort Worth, Texas

Saturday, November 2, 2019

1. (4) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 189.707 mph.

2. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 188.890 mph.

3. (11) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 188.712 mph.

4. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 188.436 mph.

5. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 188.357 mph.

6. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 188.317 mph.

7. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 188.003 mph.

8. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 187.976 mph.

9. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 187.931 mph.

10. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 187.891 mph.

11. (22) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 187.793 mph.

12. (18) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 187.735 mph.

13. (42) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 187.617 mph.

14. (9) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 187.389 mph.

15. (12) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 187.233 mph.

16. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 187.201 mph.

17. (19) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 187.091 mph.

18. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 186.845 mph.

19. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 186.845 mph.

20. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 186.761 mph.

21. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 186.754 mph.

22. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 186.651 mph.

23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 186.619 mph.

24. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 186.606 mph.

25. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 186.522 mph.

26. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 186.316 mph.

27. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 186.181 mph.

28. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 186.091 mph.

29. (36) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Ford, 185.586 mph.

30. (96) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 185.420 mph.

31. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 185.344 mph.

32. (00) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 184.970 mph.

33. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 184.231 mph.

34. (53) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 182.840 mph.

35. (27) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 182.229 mph.

36. (52) Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 181.026 mph.

37. (77) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 181.020 mph.

38. (15) Joe Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 179.850 mph.

39. (51) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 178.347 mph.

40. (66) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 176.200 mph.

Greg Engle