Date: March 6, 2015
Event: Kobalt 400 Qualifying (Round 3 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (27.738 seconds at 194.679 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (12th, 28.083 seconds at 192.287 mph)
Kevin Harvick (18th, 28.084 seconds at 192.280 mph)
Danica Patrick (21st, 28.195 seconds at 191.523 mph)
Regan Smith (34th, 28.539 seconds at 189.215 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by setting the 12th-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart turned a lap of 28.083 seconds at 192.287 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the final qualifying round.
“It got a little two tight in (turns) three and four that last run,” said Stewart, who won at Las Vegas in 2012. “Still, it’s a decent starting spot for Sunday. We worked in race trim a little bit today, and tomorrow is where we’ll get this Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops ready for the race.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 15 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 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 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 18th with a time of 28.084 seconds at 192.280 mph.
“We’ve struggled in qualifying trim for some reason today,” said Harvick, who has three top-five finishes in 14 Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas. “We’ve been a couple tenths off since we went into qualifying trim. We’ll just keep working on it. Our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team will work hard and do a great job in trim.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 21st with a time of 28.195 seconds at 191.523 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevrolet was OK in (turns) one and two,” said Patrick, who will make her third Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas on Sunday. “I probably used a little more brake, but I also used more throttle. Then when I got down to (turns) three and four, the car was a little twitchy in the middle (of the corner) and it just got tight on exit. It wasn’t quite the qualifying effort we were looking for today, but we’ll focus on race trim tomorrow and get ready for Sunday.”
Regan Smith, interim driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 34th with a time of 28.539 seconds at 189.215 mph.
“The Haas Automation Chevrolet was too tight,” said Smith, who will make his sixth Sprint Cup start at Las Vegas on Sunday. “We made some adjustments and went out for a second run. We picked up speed, but not enough to advance to the second round. I hate that we’ll start in the back Sunday, but we’ve got two practice sessions tomorrow to fine tune it for the race.”
Jeff Gordon led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 27.738 seconds at 194.679 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 27.939 seconds at 193.278 mph set by Joey Logano on March 7, 2014. It was his 79th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Las Vegas.
Logano will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 27.790 seconds at 194.315 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski and Stewart. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-eight drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Mike Bliss, Reed Sorenson, Travis Kvapil, Mike Wallace and Matt DiBenedetto did not make the race.