Date: Aug. 9, 2014
Event: 355k at The Glen Qualifying (Round 22 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (2.45-mile, 11-turn road course)
Pole Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (68.126 seconds at 129.466 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (4th, 68.447 seconds at 128.859 mph)
Kurt Busch (5th, 68.470 seconds at 128.816 mph)
Tony Stewart (13th, 68.796 seconds at 128.205 mph)
Danica Patrick (43rd, 70.585 seconds at 124.956 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International by qualifying fourth for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355k at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick turned a lap of 68.447 seconds at 128.859 mph around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course.
“I didn’t really put a whole lap together,” said Harvick, who won at Watkins Glen in 2006. “The car was really good – just didn’t get everything out of it that I needed to get the pole. Still, it’s a solid effort by our Budweiser team and a really good starting position. From there we should be able to hopefully race up front all day.”
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 speeds set in the final round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance into the final round.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified fifth with a time of 68.470 seconds at 128.816 mph.
“It was a nice qualifying session today with the adjustments we made overnight we put ourselves in contention to be in that final elite group,” said Busch, whose best Sprint Cup finish at Watkins Glen is second, earned in 2010. “We had to make a second outing when we were right on the bubble. We were 11that the time. We did get bumped to 12th when we took our green flag. We would have stayed 12th, but it was like we were buying insurance. Sometimes you don’t need insurance, but it’s good to have it. Yet we still picked up on our third time out. That was the good thing that we kept laying down good lap times. The car is solid. Were we a pole sitting car? Maybe, but we weren’t quite in position. We have a top-five starting spot and that is what you come here to do on Friday and Saturday. Now it’s race time.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, will start 13th after posting a lap of 68.796 seconds at 128.205 mph.
“This is such a momentum race track that you can gain or lose that really easy,” said Stewart, a five-time Sprint Cup winner at Watkins Glen (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009). “With all the corners they’ve got here and braking centers you can get that really easy and not even know you did it. We picked up from our first run with our Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevy – ran a 15 on our first run and then ran that 79 which definitely picked up for us. It just didn’t pick up enough.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 43rd after clocking in at 70.585 seconds at 124.956 mph. She wrecked her primary car on Friday and has to start in the back of the field regardless of where she qualified. Because of this, she ran in race trim and turned 11 laps during the qualifying session, while most drivers did about four to six circuits.
“We just tried to get laps in the GoDaddy car” said Patrick, who will make her 68th career Sprint Cup start on Sunday, and her second at Watkins Glen. “We had full fuel and ran in race trim. I think Tony Gibson (crew chief) and I learned something and I really have to thank all four SHR teams for their efforts. I know they worked really hard last night and this morning.”
Jeff Gordon captured his 75th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his third at Watkins Glen by turning a lap of 68.126 seconds at 129.466 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 68.777 seconds at 128.241 mph set by Marcos Ambrose on August 10, 2013.
Marcos Ambrose will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 68.299 seconds at 129.138 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Jimmie Johnson, Harvick, Busch, A.J. Allmendinger, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-three drivers attempted to qualify for the Cheez-It 355k at The Glen. All made the race since there are 43 starting positions in a Sprint Cup field.
The Cheez-It 355k at The Glen gets underway at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at noon.