Date: Sept. 11, 2015
Event: Qualifying for the Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 26 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (21.349 seconds at 126.470 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (6th, 21.463 seconds at 125.798 mph)
Kurt Busch (8th, 21.516 seconds at 125.488 mph)
Tony Stewart (10th, 21.552 seconds at 125.278 mph)
Danica Patrick (14th, 21.376 seconds at 126.310 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser “Make A Plan To Make It Home”/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway by setting the sixth-fastest lap in qualifying for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick turned a lap of 21.463 seconds at 125.798 mph on the .75-mile oval.
“We were just loose from pretty much the drop of the green flag in the first run and just never really caught up with it as we got to the end,” said Harvick, who has three Sprint Cup wins at Richmond (September 2006, September 2011 and April 2013). “We made the Budweiser/Jimmy John’s better on exit, but never really got it all the way fixed or all the way through the corner.”
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 eighth with a time of 21.516 seconds at 125.488 mph.
“Turns one and two were tough because of the angle of the sun,” said Busch, a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Richmond (September 2005 and April 2015). “I struggled to get to the bottom. The Haas Automation Chevrolet was good in turns three and four with the shade. We made some adjustments before the final round, but it wasn’t enough to get us a better starting spot. We’ll start eighth tomorrow. We can win from there.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 10th with a time of 21.552 seconds at 125.278 mph.
“I don’t remember the last time I qualified in the top-10 at Richmond, so I’ll definitely take that,” said Stewart, who has three Sprint Cup wins at Richmond (September 1999, May 2001 and May 2002). “The Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy was a little tight in the center (of the corner) and a little bit loose off, but we had three solid rounds there. So I’m pretty happy with that.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 14th with a time of 21.376 seconds at 126.310 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevy was tight in the center (of the corner) and free off,” said Patrick, who will make her sixth Sprint Cup start at Richmond Saturday night. “I’d hoped we’d make it to the final round, but we ended up with a decent starting spot and I think we have a good car for the race.”
Joey Logano led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 21.349 seconds at 126.470 mph. It was his 13th career Sprint Cup pole, his fifth of the season and his second at Richmond.
Matt Kenseth will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 21.368 seconds at 126.357 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, David Ragan, Harvick, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Stewart, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon. All are listed in the order they’ll start the race.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by NBC Sports Network.