Date: Feb. 27, 2015
Event: Folds of Honor 500 Qualifying (Round 2 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (28.477 seconds at 194.683 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (2nd, 28.608 seconds at 193.792 mph)
Danica Patrick (18th, 28.982 seconds at 191.291 mph)
Regan Smith (38th, no time)
Tony Stewart (39th, no time)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway by setting the second-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick turned a lap of 28.608 seconds at 193.792 mph on the 1.54-mile oval in the final qualifying round.
“In the first round, I missed turn one, and in the last round, I missed turn one again and just didn’t get to the bottom like I needed to in order to get back in the throttle,” said Harvick, who scored his first Sprint Cup victory at Atlanta in 2001. “I’m just really proud of everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet for everything they’ve done. We have a fast car. I feel really good about our car on the long haul and that’s what matters.”
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, five-minute round 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.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 18th with a time of 28.982 seconds at 191.291 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevrolet was really good in (turns) one and two. I tried to get a little bit more down in (turns) three and four and the car got tight in the center of the corner,” said Patrick, who will make her fourth Sprint Cup start at Atlanta Sunday. “As a team, we’re still in the early stages of our relationship as far as crew chief, driver and engineers go, and there have been some real positives to take away from the weekend so far.”
Harvick and Patrick were the only two SHR drivers to make a qualifying lap after NASCAR’s technical inspection process dragged on so long that 13 drivers were never able to make a qualifying lap. Regan Smith, interim driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, and Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, were a part of this group. As a result, Smith will start 38th and Stewart will start 39th in the Folds of Honor 500.
“I don’t get the opportunity to do this very much, so every chance I get I want to make the most of,” said Smith, who will make his seventh Sprint Cup start at Atlanta Sunday. “I can’t believe how that all went down. We’ve got a strong Haas Automation Chevrolet and I feel like if we had the chance to qualify, we would be starting better than where we are. We’ve got one last practice session to work on it tomorrow and get it ready for Sunday.”
“I don’t know what to say about today,” said Stewart, who is a three-time Sprint Cup winner at Atlanta. “We spent all of our practice working on qualifying. If we’d known this was going to happen, we could’ve worked on the race setup of our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy. Instead, we never got a chance to make a lap. Frustrating.”
Smith and Stewart are at least in good company, as three-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, 2003 Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth and six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson were also unable to get their cars out of technical inspection in time to make a qualifying lap. Gordon will start 35th, Kenseth will start 36th and Johnson will start 37th.
Joey Logano led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 28.477 seconds at 194.683 mph. It was his ninth career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at Atlanta.
Harvick will start on the outside of row one. It’s his third front row start at Atlanta and his second straight.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger and Brad Keselowski. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-seven drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Michael Annett, Mike Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto and Reed Sorenson did not make the race.
The Folds of Honor 500 gets underway at 1 p.m. EST Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 12:30 p.m.