SPARTA, KY – Stewart-Haas Racing is in the midst of a long losing streak in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Last year, they won 12 of the 36 points paying races in NASCAR’s premiere division. Unfortunately, they haven’t won in the last 20 races though including 0-for-18 in 2019.
But, despite never scoring a win before at the Kentucky Speedway, they enter Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) arguably as the favorites.
Half of their fleet will start on the front row with Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola sweeping the top starting spots for Saturday night’s race.
Suarez, earned his second career Cup Series pole and first of the 2019 season with a lap of 184.590 mph in his No. 41 Ford. He was also quickest in final practice on the 10 lap average chart too and third and eighth respectively in the two practices on Friday in terms of single lap speed.
His teammate Aric Almirola will join him on the front row as the Florida native circled the track with a speed of 183.799 mph. Almirola, was second and 24th respectively in practice on Friday in his No. 10 Ford.
Kevin Harvick (183.312 mph) gives SHR three of the top five starting positions with a fifth place qualifying effort in his No. 4 Ford. Harvick, was eighth and second respectively on single lap runs on Friday and ninth and third on the 10 lap averages. He has never won at Kentucky before but does have six consecutive top 10 finishes to his credit on the 1.5-mile track though.
Clint Bowyer (182.834 mph) starts seventh as all four SHR cars will come from the top 4 Rows.
Brad Keselowski qualified third in his No. 2 Ford with a speed of 183.443 mph to give Ford a 1-2-3 sweep in qualifying. They’ll also take four of the top five spots and five of the top seven overall.
The only non Ford in the top five was Kurt Busch (183.355 mph). Busch, also was quickest in the first practice session of the day in his No. 1 Chevrolet too.
The two-time defending Kentucky winner in Martin Truex Jr. starts eighth in his No. 19 Toyota. Kyle Busch will roll off 10th in his No. 18 Toyota.
Current Cup Series points leader Joey Logano starts 11th.
Quaker State 400 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Daniel Suarez, Aric Almirola
Row 2: Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch
Row 3: Kevin Harvick, Daniel Hemric R
Row 4: Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr.
Row 5: Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch
Row 6: Joey Logano, William Byron
Row 7: Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard
Row 8: Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 9: Michael McDowell, Denny Hamlin
Row 10: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott
Row 11: Erik Jones, Alex Bowman
Row 12: Ryan Newman, Matt DiBenedetto
Row 13: David Ragan, Chris Buescher
Row 14: Ty Dillon, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Row 15: Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece R
Row 16: Matt Tifft, Bayley Currey
Row 17: Ross Chastain, Landon Cassill
Row 18: BJ McLeod, Quin Houff