Kevin Harvick claims third Brickyard 400 pole
When Kevin Harvick won the 2003 Brickyard 400, he did so from a pole starting spot. Harvick will begin his bid for a second win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday from the pole after posting a 48.448-second/185.766 mph lap during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying Sunday morning. It's Harvick’s fifth pole of the 2019 season and his third-career pole at IMS.
“I just have to thank everyone on our team for everything that they do,” Harvick said. "I thought we had a good car yesterday in race trim. In practice, we never did any qualifying stuff. I think clean air is the strategy by handling is going to come into play at some point. We saw that after about lap 10 yesterday [in the Xfinity race Saturday], we saw who’s cars were pushing and not pushing. You’re going to have to hang on to them the best that you can in the beginning of a run to be fast. We’ll have to keep an eye on the tire wear to see if we can do two-tire [pit stops]. So there’s a number of things that will come into play today, and hopefully, we can finish where we start.”
Ford drivers claimed the top-four positions to sweep all the available starting positions in the first two rows of the 40-car starting grid. Paul Menard qualified second to start on the front row alongside Harvick and Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano claimed second-row starting spots with third and fourth-place qualifying efforts.
Ford claimed seven of the top-10 starting positions, including all three Team Penske drivers. Joining teammate Logano in the top-10 were fellow-Penske drivers Brad Keselowski in sixth and Ryan Blaney ninth.
The only non-Ford drivers in the top-10 of qualifying were Chevrolet drivers Jimmie Johnson, a four-time Brickyard 400 winner, in fifth; Kurt Busch in eighth; and highest-qualifying Toyota driver and two-time Brickyard 400 winner Kyle Busch in seventh.
Kyle Busch held the provisional pole position through most of the first half of the qualifying session. he went out onto the track sixth in the qualifying order and posted a lap that kept him on top until Harvick went out 23rd.
Aric Almirola rounded out the top-10 in qualifying, joining Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Harvick and Bowyer in putting three of the four Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the top-10 of the starting grid. The remaining SHR driver, Daniel Suarez, qualified 20th.
Suarez is one of four drivers vying for one of the two remaining available playoff berths in the final race of the 26-race regular season. Aside from Suarez, Bowyer and Johnson, Ryan Newman is also in the running to join the 16-driver playoff field. Newman was the lowest qualifier of the four, qualifying 22nd.