Date: Feb. 28, 2014
Event: Qualifying for The Profit on CNBC 500k (Round 2 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (25.828 seconds at 139.384 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (10th, 26.078 seconds at 138.047 mph)
Kevin Harvick (13th, 26.122 seconds at 137.815 mph)
Tony Stewart (20th, 26.185 seconds at 137.483 mph)
Danica Patrick (33rd, 26.365 seconds at 136.545 mph)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Phoenix International Raceway by setting the 10th-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Busch turned a lap of 26.078 seconds at 138.047 mph on the 1-mile oval in the final qualifying round.
“A top-10 start is good, but we wanted better,” said Busch, who won at Phoenix in 2005. “We had the Haas Automation Chevrolet up to fourth in the first session and had a plan in place to make a run at the top-five in the second session. We made a small air pressure adjustment that we thought might get us there, but unfortunately it made it so we couldn’t rotate the center of the corner and that hurt us. We’ll be fine. We have some work to do in race trim, so hopefully we get some practice time tomorrow, but we’ll be in a good spot when it’s time to race.”
Qualifying consisted of two rounds. The first was 30 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 12 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second and final round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by the final-round speeds. The remaining 43-car field was set via the speeds posted by those who did not advance into the final round.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, just missed the final round as he clocked the 13th-quickest time of 26.122 seconds at 137.815 mph.
“Everybody on the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet did a good job,” said Harvick, who has four Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix (April 2006, November 2006, November 2012 and November 2013). “That was our first real qualifying run of the day. We didn’t get a chance to make one in practice. We were way too tight the first time out. They made the car much better for the second run. I think we missed the cut by a thousandth of a second. I think it’s a cool concept. I think the only thing we need to do is be able to cool the cars down, but everything else was fine.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified 20th with a time of 26.185 seconds at 137.483 mph.
“We were a little too loose on entry and exit there on our first run,” said Stewart, who won at Phoenix in 1999. “We made the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy better on our second and third run, but we couldn’t get it cooled down enough to run a quicker lap.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 33rd with a time of 26.365 seconds at 136.545 mph.
“It’s disappointing. Something was wrong with the brakes,” said Patrick, who will make her fourth Sprint Cup start at Phoenix Sunday. “It’s the weirdest thing. It happened last fall here too. I think we’re all a little dumbfounded. There was no indication of it in practice and we didn’t change anything after practice and before qualifying. I think we’re all searching for answers at this point. It’s disappointing for everyone on the GoDaddy team. I think we’re better than we showed today.”
Brad Keselowski led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 25.828 seconds at 139.384 mph. It was his fourth career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at Phoenix.
Joey Logano will start on the outside of row one after running a fast lap of 25.850 seconds at 139.265 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-six drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Josh Wise, Landon Cassill and Dave Blaney did not make the race.
The Profit on CNBC 500k gets underway at 3 p.m. EST Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.