LAS VEGAS, NV – Kevin Harvick turned the 21st fastest lap in the first of three rounds in Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 15 minutes later, he was quickest in the second round. He finished the final round how he ended the second – fastest.
Harvick, circled the 1.5-mile track with a speed of 180.517 mph in his No. 4 Ford for his first pole of the season and 26th of his Cup Series career. Despite leading the field to the green for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Harvick says that his car definitely wasn’t the quickest on the day.
See, Harvick said that his statement was a byproduct of this new qualifying format under the new rules package. With the new aerodynamics on the Cup cars, this weekend in Vegas is the first true test on what we’re going to see for the rest of the year.
These cars can draft now. NASCAR, didn’t want to make a change in the way that they set the fields now, saying instead of moving to a single car format, that they were in the entertainment industry and welcomed drafting.
Single car speed, Richard Childress Racing had the best cars. Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric were the ones to beat. They were fastest in the lone practice session of the day on Friday and were among the best in the first round of qualifying.
Despite having good speed in the final round, Harvick had a better car in the draft and therefore had a better lap time.
Dillon (179.509 mph) and his rookie teammate Hemric (179.480 mph) will start fourth and fifth respectively.
Two Toyota’s in teammates Denny Hamlin (180.457 mph) and Kyle Busch (179.706 mph) will start second and third respectively.
Harvick, was the only Ford in the top five.
The next best Ford was David Ragan who will start an impressive sixth in his Front Row Motorsports entry.
The drivers took to the track early in the first round but at the end of the final two rounds, they waited at the end of pit road until the waning moments to take to the track. See, no one wanted to lead the group of cars off pit road because if you were up front, you weren’t getting a draft which in turn lowered your speed compared to everyone else.
Pennzoil 400 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin
Row 2: Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon
Row 3: Daniel Hemric R, David Ragan
Row 4: Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 5: Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano
Row 6: Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott
Row 7: Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon
Row 8: Paul Menard, Michael McDowell
Row 9: Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones
Row 10: Brad Keselowski, William Byron
Row 11: Darrell Wallace Jr., Daniel Suarez
Row 12: Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Preece R
Row 13: Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto
Row 14: Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch
Row 15: Ryan Newman, Corey LaJoie
Row 16: Landon Cassill, Parker Kligerman
Row 17: Cody Ware, BJ McLeod
Row 18: Matt Tifft R, Joey Gase
Row 19: Reed Sorenson