Date: Nov. 6, 2015
Event: AAA Texas 500 Qualifying (Round 34 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (27.421 seconds at 196.929 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (2nd, 27.552 seconds at 195.993 mph in final round)
Kurt Busch (7th, 27.694 seconds at 194.988 mph in final round)
Danica Patrick (11th, 27.934 seconds at 193.313 mph in final round)
Tony Stewart (22nd, 27.819 seconds at 194.112 mph in second round)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth by setting the second-fastest lap in qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Harvick turned a lap of 27.552 seconds at 195.993 mph on the 1.5-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“Our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team did a great job in keeping up with the changes that we needed throughout the three rounds and we were able to keep it pretty consistent,” said Harvick, who has back-to-back runner-up finishes at Texas. “I got my entry a little bit screwed up into (turn) three that time and got it pointed the wrong direction in the middle of the corner and then I had to put a wheel in it and got it cocked sideways and scrubbed some speed. All-in-all just a continuous improvement throughout the rounds and wound up being pretty good.”
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 seventh with a time of 27.694 seconds at 194.988 mph.
“I raised the track bar on that last run and the racecar got tight on me,” said Busch, who won at Texas in November 2009. “I struggled a little bit with getting off turn four all day. The Haas Automation Chevrolet was really good off the truck in race trim and I’m looking forward to the race on Sunday.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 11th with a time of 27.934 seconds at 193.313 mph.
“The front took off on the exit of (turn) two on the last run, so we didn’t get quite as good of a lap as we wanted to,” said Patrick, who will make her seventh Sprint Cup start at Texas on Sunday. “But overall, my GoDaddy team did a great job of improving the car from practice to qualifying today and we were able to get a really good starting spot for Sunday’s race.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 22nd with a time of 27.819 seconds at 194.112 mph.
“I thought our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet was right on the edge of being too tight there in the first round but then we wound up second,” said Stewart, who is a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Texas (November 2006 and November 2011). “It really went that way (tight) though in the second round. I actually enjoy this track and the next two on the schedule so I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Brad Keselowski led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 27.421 seconds at 196.929 mph. It was his 11th career Sprint Cup pole, his third of the season and his first at Texas.
Harvick will start on the outside of row one. It’s his ninth front-row start this season and his second straight at Texas.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Patrick and Greg Biffle. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The AAA Texas 500 gets underway at 2 p.m. EST Sunday with live coverage provided by NBC.