NASCAR: Harvick grabs Phoenix pole: "You can look at the scoreboard"
By Kelly Crandall | RACER.com NASCAR correspondent
Kevin Harvick will start from the pole at ISM Raceway following a lap of 139.340 mph.
Harvick had not been fastest in either of the first two rounds of qualifying but easily went to the top of the board in the final round. A nine-time winner in Arizona – including the spring race — this is Harvick’s second pole at the track and fourth this season.
Harvick credited his Stewart-Haas team and crew members who are filling in for suspended crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith.
“It’s pretty awesome to see a group of people come together, ‘Old Man’ Tony Gibson and [car chief Nick DeFazio] coming out to fill the gaps for the suspension and like I told the radio a second ago, everybody on our Busch Light Ford has been there before and we know what we need to do,” Harvick said.
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“This is a great racetrack for us. I really wasn’t expecting that. Our cars are usually a lot better in race trim than in qualifying trim and just got fortunate to hit a good lap right now, and it came at a good time.”
Entering the weekend off a penalty that took away his championship eligibility, Harvick responded to a question about having his back against the wall by saying, “I don’t need to tell you about it. You can look at the scoreboard.”
Childers, who took to social media to defend SHR earlier Friday, echoed the sentiment on Twitter.
Chase Elliott will join Harvick on the front row. Elliott ran a fast lap of 139.152 mph.
Completing the top five were Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (139.007 mph), Ryan Blaney (138.867 mph), and Alex Bowman (138.739 mph).
Kyle Busch will start sixth at 138.707 mph with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones qualifying seventh at 138.344 mph. Kyle Larson was eighth fastest at 138.259 mph, Joey Logano ninth at 138.254 mph, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 10 at 138.249 mph.
Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola were the four playoff drivers who failed to advance to the final round. Truex will start 13th, Busch 14th, Bowyer 16th, and Almirola 18th.
UP NEXT: Second practice at 11:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. local time.
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