As he crossed the finish line Friday afternoon with what looked like it would be a pole-winning run for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race with a Bristol Motor Speedway track record run of 14.615 seconds, Jeff Gordon said over his team radio, “That’s all I’ve got.”
But only a few seconds later, Kevin Harvick found a bit more than Gordon, taking the pole with yet another track record mark of 14.607 seconds on the .533-mile high-banked oval.
Harvick also set a track speed record of 131.362 mph, to 131.290 mph for Gordon.
“It feels great,” Harvick said. “I just have to thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s team for really everything they do every week for qualifying and race cars that they bring to the race track are just incredibly fast. They have helped improve my qualifying record a tremendous amount. Today was no different.”
Harvick made it the 18th time a track record has been broken in the first 24 races this season. Now he’s hoping to start from the pole and finish with the checkered flag.
“Track position is definitely as important as it is anywhere here with the current groove and where you are running,” Harvick said. ” I felt good about our car during practice and just have to stay in there all night and do the best we can.”
Carl Edwards will start third (131.209 mph), followed by Kyle Busch (131.057), Jimmie Johnson (131.030), Joey Logano (131.030), Kurt Busch (130.940), Greg Biffle (130.869), Brad Keselowski (130.504), Marcos Ambrose (130.460), Ryan Newman (130.168) and Kasey Kahne (130.009).
While the second part of the qualifying session was without incident, that wasn’t the case in the first part of the session. Several drivers wound up in trouble by overdriving the track.
Among those, Aric Almirola, who slammed his right rear quarter, Kyle Larson (who was fastest in one of the practice sessions earlier in the day) slammed both the right rear and left front of his car, and Cole Whitt did likewise.
Gordon showed he’s still riding a wave of momentum after his win this past Sunday at Michigan. He was fastest in the first part of qualifying with a mark of 14.688 seconds.
Gordon then topped that mark in the second part of the session, resetting his freshly-minted mark with an even-better 14.615.
While it looked like that mark would hold up, Harvick had other ideas and will start Saturday night’s race from the top spot – and with Gordon alongside.
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