Date: Oct. 31, 2014
Event: AAA Texas 500 Qualifying (Round 34 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (27.095 seconds at 199.299 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (4th, 27.148 seconds at 198.910 mph in Round 3)
Kevin Harvick (5th, 27.158 seconds at 198.836 mph in Round 3)
Tony Stewart (6th, 27.203 seconds at 198.508 mph in Round 3)
Danica Patrick (27th, 27.436 seconds at 196.822 mph in Round 1)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth by setting the fourth-fastest lap in qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Busch turned a lap of 27.148 seconds at 198.910 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the third qualifying round.
“Good runs all the way through,” said Busch, who won at Texas in November 2009. “We had to make some big changes going into qualifying with the car touching the racetrack due to the extra speed. The pace that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been on for qualifying this year is track records everywhere we go. This time around was no different. But we were able to advance through all three rounds and really put up a good fight in the final round. We almost had a shot at the pole, we ended up a little tight in turn four, and that brought us home fourth. A great day all the way around for the first time with Tony Gibson, the engineers and everyone on this Haas Automation Chevy. It felt good to get that first day under our belt.”
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 the speeds of those who did not advance past the first round.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified fifth with a time of 27.158 seconds at 198.836 mph in the third qualifying round.
“(The car) was just too tight,” said Harvick, who has three top-five finishes in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas. “It was a little too tight getting into the corner. I think we’ll be good in race trim.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified sixth with a time of 27.203 seconds at 198.508 mph in the third qualifying round. He also broke the track qualifying record in the second round with a fast lap of 26.985 seconds at 200.111 mph, topping the previous mark of 27.509 seconds at 196.299 mph set by Kyle Busch on April 13, 2013.
“We were going to be probably down to a 26.75 (seconds) or 26.80 if I would have finished getting through (turn) four,” said Stewart, who is a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Texas (November 2006 and November 2011). “I got real tight and had to lift all the way out of the gas in the first round and still ran a 27.10, so it was going to be a big monster lap in the first round, but that is not the one that pays. We hit it the second round and I missed it in the third round, my fault. Chad Johnston (crew chief) and everybody on the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy team, we had some problems this morning and we only got eight laps of practice in. We had a good run in the mock qualifying run late in the first session and qualified well. I’m pretty happy with that.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 27th with a time of 27.436 seconds at 196.822 mph.
“We were a bit loose,” said Patrick, who will make her fifth Sprint Cup start at Texas on Sunday. “We’re working hard and I think we’ve got a good GoDaddy Chevy for Sunday.”
Matt Kenseth won the pole in the final round of knockout qualifying with a lap of 27.095 seconds at 199.299 mph. It was his 13th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Texas.
Jeff Gordon will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 27.096 seconds at 199.291 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Stewart, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The AAA Texas 500 gets underway at 3 p.m. EST Sunday with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.