Date: Aug. 29, 2014
Event: Oral-B USA 500 Qualifying (Round 25 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (1st, 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph in Round 3)
Tony Stewart (12th, 29.504 seconds at 187.907 mph in Round 3)
Kurt Busch (22nd, 29.590 seconds at 187.361 mph in Round 2)
Danica Patrick (27th, 29.529 seconds at 187.748 mph in Round 1)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway by winning the pole for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was the 20th Sprint Cup pole for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s seventh this season.
Harvick turned a lap of 29.118 seconds at 190.398 mph on the 1.54-mile oval to score his 12th career Sprint Cup pole, his sixth of the season and his first at Atlanta. It was also Harvick’s second consecutive pole, as he claimed the top spot in qualifying last week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Prior to this year, the most poles Harvick ever won in a single season were two in 2005.
“Our car didn’t really change that much,” said Harvick, who earned his first career Sprint Cup victory at Atlanta in 2001. “I just messed the first round up really bad trying to do something that I wasn’t doing in practice. Luckily, we were fast enough to be able to get through the first round and into the second round. The second round, we got into a little better rhythm where I wanted to run on the racetrack. I’ve got to thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s team. They make my life a lot easier on Fridays and this is a lot of fun.”
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 and 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 set 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.
Harvick has gone on to win the race from the pole four times in his career – August 2003 at Indianapolis, September 2006 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, October 2013 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and April 2014 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 12th with a time of 29.504 seconds at 187.907 mph. Stewart is a three-time winner at Atlanta.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 22nd with a time of 29.590 seconds at 187.361 mph.
“The Haas Automation Chevrolet was tight in race trim, so we freed it up for qualifying,” said Busch, who is also a three-time winner at Atlanta. “We wound up being too tight earlier in the day and then too loose tonight. I feel like we learned a little bit here tonight that we can apply toward qualifying at Chicago, the first race in the Chase, which is another racetrack with older asphalt.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 27th with a time of 29.529 seconds at 187.748 mph.
“It was just loose,” said Patrick, who will make her third Sprint Cup start at Atlanta on Sunday. “It was loose just about everywhere. We made a second run and it got a little better, but not good enough. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Brad Keselowski will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 29.170 seconds at 190.058 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Stewart. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.