Kevin Harvick earned his first Nationwide Series pole at Texas Motor Speedway in a session that saw a sizable chunk of the field have problems simply getting onto the track to turn laps.
According to NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton, 17 cars had some sort of inspection violation before qualifying, with the majority of the issues centering around the cars’ rear-end housing, toe, and camber.
Among those affected were some major names including Nationwide Series all-time wins leader Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, and Ty Dillon, who all failed to set times and will have to start tonight’s O’Reilly 300 from the back.
Dillon’s car owner, Richard Childress, was spotted talking with Pemberton after qualifying. On Thursday, Dillon led both of the Nationwide practice sessions.
“It’s a new process for the Nationwide Series cars and there’s a lot to be learned sometimes by the teams and how they adjust,” Pemberton told reporters. “We have a new right side tire here, we don’t know if the deflection of the tire is throwing the camber issues off and a few things like that.
“But basically, Richard and I talked and we want to make sure everything goes right moving forward and we’ll get together and talk further on a plan just to make sure everybody gets on the right page.”
While the inspection drama unfolded, Harvick was able to earn the pole with a lap of 184.963 mph in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet during the final round of qualifying.
That was enough to beat Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth, who starts second on the strength of a 184.464 mph lap in his No. 20 Toyota.
JRM and JGR drivers all make up the first three rows of the O’Reilly 300 grid. Row 2 will feature Regan Smith and Dale Earnhardt Jr. from JRM, while JGR’s Elliott Sadler and JRM rookie Chase Elliott make up Row 3.
Smith and Trevor Bayne are currently tied for the Nationwide points lead, but Smith holds the tiebreaker thanks to his season-opening win at Daytona in February. Bayne will start on the outside of Row 4 alongside Brendan Gaughan.
As for the four drivers that didn’t take times due to their problems in inspection, Kyle Busch will start 36th, Larson 37th, Dillon 38th, and Chris Buescher 39th.
Tonight’s race is set for a green flag of 8:30 p.m. ET.