Harvick to drive at least 12 NNS races in 2014 for JR Motorsports

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An interesting piece of news this morning from the NASCAR Nationwide Series side of things: Kevin Harvick will be suiting up for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports for at least 12 NNS events next season.

The 2014 NNS schedule for Harvick – who currently sits third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup – has yet to be finalized. But what is known is that four of his runs with JRM will feature primary sponsorship from one of his more familiar backers, Hunt Brothers Pizza.

The pizza company will serve as primary sponsor for Harvick at Bristol, Charlotte and both races at Texas, and will receive associate placement in the other races.

Harvick will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet, which is being planned to feature other drivers at various points during next season. The final driver roster for the No. 5 car is to be determined, but in the meantime, Dale Jr. is happy to have a two-time Nationwide Series champion in his JRM stable.

“This is pretty cool to have Kevin a part of our team,” he said in a statement. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s an incredible racer. He will be a huge asset to JR Motorsports, our sponsors and our fans. I’m grateful that he wants to drive our cars, and I’m grateful that Hunt Brothers Pizza is committed to Kevin and our race program. We’re happy to have them.”

Harvick has won 40 races in his NNS career, making him third all-time on the series’ wins list.

The welcome wagon on Twitter is already out for Harvick, as JR Motorsports regular Regan Smith has chimed in this morning:

Additionally, Kevin’s wife, DeLana, is looking forward to her husband’s upcoming work with JRM:

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images
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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480 mph), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.