Event: Duck Commander 500 Qualifying (Round 7 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (27.857 seconds at 193.847 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (1st, 27.857 seconds at 193.847 mph)
Kevin Harvick (2nd, 27.875 seconds at 193.722 mph)
Tony Stewart (11th, 28.200 seconds at 191.489 mph)
Danica Patrick (21st, 28.258 seconds at 191.096 mph)
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) drivers Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick qualified 1-2 for Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It marked the third time SHR drivers swept the front row for a Sprint Cup race. The last time SHR drivers qualified 1-2 was just two races ago when Busch and Harvick took the front row at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California last month.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, turned a lap of 27.857 seconds at 193.847 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying. It was his 18th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Texas. It was also the 25th Sprint Cup pole for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s third of the season. Busch won the pole award at Fontana and Harvick won the pole at Phoenix International Raceway.
“The guys at the track, the guys at the shop, the tire guy, the engine guy, everyone chipped in,” said Busch, who posted his third top-10 start of the season. “That’s what this is all about – getting that little extra. We did that with our Haas Automation Chevrolet today. Thanks to Gene (Haas). The second pole of the year feels great. Now we need to dial it in and get that long-run speed out of the car.”
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, clocked in at 27.875 seconds at 193.722 mph in the final round of qualifying. Harvick will make his fourth front-row start of the season in the Duck Commander 500.
“The car feels good. Our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team did a really good job,” said Harvick, who has four top-five finishes in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas. “We stuck to our plan, and that’s exactly what we had planned to do in practice. Everything worked out good. We made one qualifying run and spent the second half of practice really concentrating on race runs and making sure we can run the long hauls. I feel really good about that. I’m just really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing, on the No. 41 team for getting a pole and my team for doing a solid job every week. Look at the lineup in the top-12 and you can see the Hendrick engines and chassis that are in that top-12. That is really impressive. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified 11th with a time of 28.200 seconds at 191.489 mph.
“That is definitely a better (qualifying) result considering where we started the day,” said Stewart, who is a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Texas (November 2006 and November 2011). “Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys made a lot of gains in between the practices today and it showed in qualifying. Rusty Rush and all of his people are here this weekend so we hope to put on a good show tomorrow night with our Rush Truck Centers Chevy.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 TaxACT/GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 21st with a time of 28.258 seconds at 191.096 mph.
“I could tell after (turns) one and two that the first run wasn’t going to be good enough, so I brought the car back in,” said Patrick, who will make her sixth Sprint Cup start at Texas on Saturday night. “When we went back out, the car was just out of the track more than it needed to be. I might have been able to drive it into (turn) one a little bit harder, but that’s all it had. The TaxACT/GoDaddy Chevy was solid in race trim earlier in practice. We didn’t qualify as well as we’d hoped, but I think we have a good car for tomorrow night.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 20 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.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, Stewart and Jeff Gordon. All are listed in the order they’ll start Saturday night’s race.
Forty-five drivers attempted to qualify for the Duck Commander 500, with Brendan Gaughan and Jeb Burton not making the 43-car field.
The Duck Commander 500 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 7 p.m.