Kevin Harvick has carried in some Phoenix momentum early in the Las Vegas weekend.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led Thursday’s four-hour test session for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In 42 laps, Harvick was the only driver to set a lap north of 190mph, at 190.148 at the 1.5-mile oval.
Harvick’s pace was best on a day that provided the first real chance at a race weekend for teams to get a better handle on the new aerodynamic adjustments implanted by NASCAR’s competition department.
Changes to the intermediate track rules package, per NASCAR, include statically setting the race car ride height, a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments and an eight-inch rear spoiler. A 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan rounds out changes for 2014.
“We were three or four tenths off [at the start of the test] and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route,” Harvick said, via a NASCAR release. “The next route was not as good and the third route finally wound up being good.”
Harvick’s old ride – the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet now driven by Austin Dillon – clocked in second at 189.540.
Chevrolets and Toyotas dominated the top 10, with Trevor Bayne in third the only Ford among the fastest runners of the day. Bayne’s best speed was 188.620.
Ryan Newman (RCR) and Danica Patrick (SHR) completed the top five.
Spots 6-10 were occupied by Cole Whitt (Swan Racing), AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing), Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton (Michael Waltrip Racing) and 2013 Las Vegas winner Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing).
Josh Wise (Phil Parsons Racing) and Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing) were respectable 11th and 12th in the single-car, lesser budget operations.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 19th. 48 cars took times on the day, ahead of the weekend.