Date: Oct. 9, 2014
Event: Bank of America 500 Qualifying (Round 31 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (27.357 seconds at 197.390 mph in Round 3)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (4th, 27.475 seconds at 196.542 mph in Round 3)
Kevin Harvick (7th, 27.574 seconds at 195.837 mph in Round 3)
Kurt Busch (11th, 27.788 seconds at 194.328 mph in Round 3)
Danica Patrick (14th, 27.486 seconds at 196.464 mph in Round 2)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Thursday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by setting the fourth-fastest lap in qualifying for the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night. Stewart turned a lap of 27.475 seconds at 196.542 mph on the 1.5-mile oval.
“We had a really good practice, but those first couple of qualifying laps were nothing like practice,” said Stewart, who won at Charlotte in October 2003. “We started off really tight, to the point where I couldn’t even be flat on my out lap. But I’m proud of Chad Johnston (crew chief) and this Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team because they all worked to find a solution and fine tune this No. 14 Chevrolet. We advanced all the way to the third round and now we’ll start on the outside of row two. We’ll take that.”
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.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified seventh with a time of 27.574 seconds at 195.837 mph.
“The Budweiser Chevrolet was just too tight on the last couple of runs and we didn’t get a very good lap there at the end,” said Harvick, a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 11th with a time of 27.788 seconds at 194.328 mph. However, his second round time of 27.167 seconds at 198.771 mph that advanced him to the third and final round set a new track record – not just at Charlotte, but at all 1.5-mile ovals the Sprint Cup Series visits.
“All in all, it was a good day for the State Water Heaters team,” said Busch, who won the 2010 Coca-Cola 600. “You know, one cool thing is with the reduction of horsepower and downforce next year, the track record should stand for a while. It was a really cool feeling to go that fast. The car had a lot of speed in it, but it was just too tight in the final round. It was really good in race trim, so I think we’ll have a really good State Water Heaters Chevrolet for Saturday night’s race.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 14th with a time of 27.486 seconds at 196.464 mph.
“I was really hoping to get our GoDaddy Chevy into round three of qualifying, but our car was just too tight out there,” said Patrick, who will make her fifth Sprint Cup start at Charlotte Saturday night. “In our first run our car was too tight coming to the green flag, and too tight center through the exit in turns three and four. The guys were able to make it better on exit in round two, but it was still too tight through the center and that’s what hurt us. We have two practices tomorrow to get it ready for Saturday night’s race.”
Kurt’s younger brother, Kyle Busch, won the pole in the final round of knockout qualifying with a lap of 27.357 seconds at 197.390 mph. It was his 16th career Sprint Cup pole, his third of the season and his second at Charlotte.
Jeff Gordon will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 27.381 seconds at 197.217 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Denny Hamlin, Stewart, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Harvick, Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle. All are listed in the order they’ll start the race.
The Bank of America 500 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with a pre-race show at 7 p.m.