Date: May 21, 2015
Event: Coca-Cola 600 Qualifying (Round 12 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing (27.799 seconds at 194.252 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (8th, 28.232 seconds at 191.272 mph)
Tony Stewart (12th, 29.124 seconds at 185.414 mph)
Kurt Busch (14th, 28.167 seconds at 191.714 mph)
Danica Patrick (20th, 28.279 seconds at 190.954 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Thursday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by setting the eighth-fastest lap in qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday night. Harvick turned a lap of 28.232 seconds at 191.272 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“We were just too tight,” said Harvick, a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600. “The Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team worked really hard all day and that gives us a decent starting position for Sunday. It’s a long race and we’ll have to keep up with our adjustments to stay up front all race long.”
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. 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.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 12th with a time of 29.124 seconds at 185.414 mph.
“I wrecked in (turn) two and didn’t hit anything,” said Stewart, who won at Charlotte in October 2003. “I got pretty loose over there and screwed up the lap. Good thing is we have a really good Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy for Sunday.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 14th with a time of 28.167 seconds at 191.714 mph.
“We started today in qualifying trim and kind of hung out on the tight side. We were tight in the first session, tight in the second one and then the third run we really threw a lot to free it up and we were still tight,” said Busch, who won the 2010 Coca-Cola 600. “We’ve got time in practice on Saturday to get it right for Sunday.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 20th with a time of 28.279 seconds at 190.954 mph.
“The biggest issue the GoDaddy team faced today was just unpredictability with the front end,” said Patrick, who will make her sixth Sprint Cup start at Charlotte Sunday night. “Sometimes it turned, sometimes it over-turned and then sometimes it just wouldn’t turn. The final run in the second round of qualifying was a step in the right direction, but we really need to focus on getting the car to be more consistent in Saturday’s practice sessions.”
Matt Kenseth led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 27.799 seconds at 194.252 mph. It was his 15th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Charlotte.
Joey Logano will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 28.003 seconds at 192.836 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Harvick, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Stewart. All are listed in the order they’ll start the race.
Forty-eight drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Jeb Burton, Mike Bliss, Travis Kvapil, Brendan Gaughan and Jeff Green did not make the race.
The Coca-Cola 600 gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 5:30 p.m.