Date: April 5, 2014
Event: Duck Commander 500 Qualifying (Round 7 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing (27.628 seconds at 195.454 mph)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (1st, 27.628 seconds at 195.454 mph)
Kevin Harvick (3rd, 27.650 seconds at 195.298 mph)
Kurt Busch (11th, 27.961 seconds at 193.126 mph)
Danica Patrick (24th, 28.014 seconds at 192.761 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth by qualifying on the pole for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart turned a lap of 27.628 seconds at 195.454 mph on the 1.5-mile oval.
It was Stewart’s 15th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his second at Texas. Stewart’s last pole came 53 races ago on Aug. 31, 2012 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was also the 14th Sprint Cup pole for SHR since its inception in 2009.
“Our Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy is fast,” said Stewart, who is a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Texas (November 2006 and November 2011). “It was good in the first run. In the second run, it was pretty good and we were second and we ran a little bit quicker. We didn't know what we could run the third time, but I knew what (Greg) Biffle had run. The good thing is Chad Johnston (crew chief) made a really big change there to try and make it better. Like he said, ‘I was either going to make you quick, or I was going to make you 12th.’ I'm glad he made the change. He’s got a lot of confidence and I really like that. We’re on the pole because of it.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 25 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, 10-minute round. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
“We have an advantage with Mobil 1 in our engine and throughout our entire car, really,” Stewart added. “Mobil 1 is more than just a sponsor. They’re a technical partner, and to make a fast lap around this place, you need to do whatever you can to reduce friction, heat and rolling resistance. That’s what Mobil 1 does for us. Now, we just have to put the whole day together tomorrow.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified third with a time of 27.650 seconds at 195.298 mph.
“Our Jimmy John’s Chevy was just tight in all three runs,” said Harvick, who has three top-five finishes in 22 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas. “As it progressed there, we just got tighter and didn’t make a big enough swing to get it exactly where it needed to be. But that’s a big improvement on where we’ve been on qualifying day, so that’s a good thing. And Tony capturing a pole is as good as it gets for the organization.”
Harvick set a new track qualifying record in the first round with a lap of 27.234 seconds at 198.282 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 27.509 seconds at 196.299 mph set by Kyle Busch on April 12, 2013. It was the fastest lap at a 1.5-mile oval in NASCAR, as Harvick’s quick time bested the previous mark of 28.074 seconds at 197.478 mph set by Geoff Bodine on Nov. 15, 1997 at Atlanta.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 11th with a time of 27.961 seconds at 193.126 mph in his backup racecar. A crash after suffering a flat left-rear tire in Friday’s practice session damaged his primary racecar.
“Our Haas Automation Chevrolet has been fast all weekend – and fortunately we had two of ‘em,” said Busch, who won at Texas in November 2009. “I’m proud of the No. 41 team for bouncing back after our little mishap in practice yesterday and putting forth a great effort today. Our team is really starting to come together. We took a backup car and put it in the last round of knockout qualifying and probably could’ve done a little better than that even. We just got a little loose getting in and when I got off the gas it shot up the track and hurt our lap. We’ll take what we’ve learned and be good for tomorrow.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 24th with a time of 28.014 seconds at 192.761 mph.
“The guys did a really nice job on the starting balance for the Go Daddy/Get Found Chevy,” said Patrick, who has three Sprint Cup, four NASCAR Nationwide Series and eight IndyCar Series starts at Texas. “We had a really solid lap in the first round of knockout qualifying today, and I’m happy with that. But we just didn’t get the balance as good for the second round, and that’s something that we just have to keep working on each week.”
Brad Keselowski will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 27.633 seconds at 195.419 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Harvick, Biffle, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-seven drivers attempted to qualify for the Duck Commander 500. David Stremme, Ryan Truex, Joe Nemechek and J.J. Yeley were the drivers that did not make the race.
The Duck Commander 500 gets underway at 3 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.