Date: Nov. 13, 2015
Event: Race for Heroes 500k Qualifying (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (25.147 seconds at 143.158 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (2nd, 25.196 seconds at 142.880 mph)
Kevin Harvick (8th, 25.340 seconds at 142.068 mph)
Danica Patrick (21st, 25.645 seconds at 140.378 mph)
Tony Stewart (31st, 25.948 seconds at 138.739 mph)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Phoenix International Raceway by setting the second-fastest lap in qualifying for the Race for Heroes 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Busch turned a lap of 25.196 seconds at 142.880 mph on the 1-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“It’s great,” said Busch, who won at Phoenix in April 2005. “The Haas Automation Chevy has been fast since we got here. The way that this weekend is shaping up for us, it’s a great start. We know we need to win. The car, the crew and everybody we are all clicking on eight cylinders. We just didn’t quite get the pole, (Jimmie) Johnson put down an awesome lap, so congrats to him. We are outside pole and we will go from there.”
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.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualified eighth with a time of 25.340 seconds at 142.068 mph.
“We didn’t qualify as well as we did last time, but the car was really good in race trim as we practiced today,” said Harvick, who has a series-best seven Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix (April 2006, November 2006, November 2012, November 2013, March 2014, November 2014 and March 2015). “We just never really found anything that worked for us in qualifying trim.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 21st with a time of 25.645 seconds at 140.378 mph.
“The GoDaddy Chevy was really loose to start on that last run,” Patrick said. “It picked up a push in the middle of the corner and just felt out of the track, so we didn’t quite get the starting spot that we’d hoped for today.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 31st with a time of 25.948 seconds at 138.739 mph after getting loose in turns three and four.
Jimmie Johnson led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 25.147 seconds at 143.158 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 25.327 seconds at 142.141 mph set by Joey Logano on Nov. 7, 2014. It was Johnson’s 34th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his third at Phoenix.
Busch will start on the outside of row one.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The Race for Heroes 500k gets underway at 2:30 p.m. EST Sunday with live coverage provided by NBC.