Date: May 29, 2015
Event: Qualifying for the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (Round 13 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval)
Pole Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (22.483 seconds at 160.121 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (6th, 22.571 seconds at 159.497 mph)
Kurt Busch (13th, 22.657 seconds at 158.891 mph)
Tony Stewart (26th, 22.773 seconds at 158.082 mph)
Danica Patrick (33rd, 22.980 seconds at 156.658 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 ditech Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway by setting the sixth-fastest lap in qualifying for the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Harvick turned a lap of 22.571 seconds at 159.497 mph on the 1-mile, concrete-oval in the final qualifying round.
“It’s always good to qualify well at Dover,” said Harvick, who has three top-fives and 12 top-10s in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Dover. “We felt like we needed a little bit of speed in practice. We definitely just kind of rolled the dice there in qualifying. It was probably a little bit better than it would’ve been, so I think it was a step in the right direction for our ditech Chevrolet.”
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.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 13th with a time of 22.657 seconds at 158.891 mph.
“We were tighter into the corner and looser off than we were in practice,” said Busch, who won at Dover in October 2011. “I couldn’t get the Haas Automation Chevrolet to cut into the corners like I needed it to. We pulled out to make a second attempt at making the final round, but didn’t get to the stripe in time. I was really happy with the car in race trim, so I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 26th with a time of 22.773 seconds at 158.082 mph.
“I thought we’d be better than that,” said Stewart, a three-time Dover winner (June 2000, September 2000 and June 2013). “But with two practices tomorrow, we should be able to get our Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy ready for Sunday.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 33rd with a time of 22.980 seconds at 156.658 mph.
“Unfortunately, we battled a loose-handling car through the first qualifying run,” said Patrick, who will make her fifth Sprint Cup start at Dover Sunday. “We made some wedge adjustments and that seemed to help the second run a bit. It’s frustrating because I know we can perform better. Our GoDaddy team is going to dig deep and make some improvements during practice tomorrow. I’m confident we can get our car handling better for the race on Sunday.”
Denny Hamlin led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 22.483 seconds at 160.121 mph. It was his 21st career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his third at Dover.
Martin Truex Jr. will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 22.539 seconds at 159.723 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Harvick, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks gets underway at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.