Date: March 7, 2014
Event: Kobalt 400 Qualifying (Round 3 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (27.939 seconds at 193.278 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (16th, 28.184 seconds at 191.598 mph)
Danica Patrick (22nd, 28.340 seconds at 190.543 mph)
Kurt Busch (23rd, 28.346 seconds at 190.503 mph)
Tony Stewart (24th, 28.494 seconds at 189.514 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by setting the 16th-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’sKobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick turned a lap of 28.184 seconds at 191.598 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the second qualifying round.
“We struggled in qualifying trim,” said Harvick, who has three top-five finishes in 13 Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas. “We struggled in race trim, too, but we got a lot better in Thursday’s test and the practices earlier today. We had a vibration in the center of the corners and that killed our speed off the corners. The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet is really good in race trim, so we’re happy with where we’re at.”
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 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 posted in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 22nd with a time of 28.340 seconds at 190.543 mph.
“I’m excited about my racecar,” said Patrick, who will make her second Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas on Sunday. “My race run yesterday in testing made me really happy. Hopefully, we’ll get this Aspen Dental Chevy further up than where we’re starting, but it’s still a step in the right direction for us. We’ll get it going on Sunday.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualified 23rd with a time of 28.346 seconds at 190.503 mph.
“We picked up a decent amount of speed from where we were in practice,” said Busch, who has three top-10 finishes in 13 Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas. “The Haas Automation Chevrolet was decent, but unfortunately it didn’t translate in the second round. We got our first run of the second round in and it wasn’t what we had hoped for after some slight adjustments, so we waited until the last minute to try and cool it down before making a second attempt. As I was coming to the start finish line the No. 47 car, which was cooling, pulled up onto the track and really didn’t do us any favors. This qualifying format is a new process and I think there are still a couple things that need to be adjusted in terms of procedure.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 24th with a time of 28.494 seconds at 189.514 mph.
“We put up a decent lap to get us into the second round, but the car just got too tight for us to make any more headway,” said Stewart, who won at Las Vegas in 2012. “This qualifying format is still new and we’re still learning. At the same time, the race is what matters and our Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy is pretty good in race trim.”
Joey Logano led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 27.939 seconds at 193.278 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 28.353 seconds at 190.456 mph set by Kasey Kahne on March 9, 2012. It was his eighth career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at Las Vegas.
Brad Keselowski will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 27.965 seconds at 193.099 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-eight drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Blake Koch, Landon Cassill, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek and J.J. Yeley did not make the race.