It wasn’t enough for Kevin Harvick to just be Freaky Fast on Friday. No, Harvick had to get greedy.
Harvick broke the track record at Michigan International Speedway not once but twice during Friday’s three rounds of knockout qualifying.
As a result, Harvick will start from the pole for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400. It’s his third pole of the season, most of any driver. It’s also the fastest qualifying effort in NASCAR since Bill Elliott ran 212.809 mph in 1987 at Talladega Superspeedway (prior to NASCAR mandating restrictor plates the following year at both Talladega and Daytona International Speedway).
Harvick initially broke Joey Logano’s track record (203.949 mph, set last August) by recording a speed of 203.995 mph (at 35.295 seconds) during the first of Friday’s three qualifying rounds.
Harvick then went out in the third and final round and really put the pedal to the metal, snapping his own brand-new record with a best-lap speed of 204.557 mph (at 35.198 seconds).
“You just have to relax and pay attention to not over-driving because it’s so easy to miss your line on the entry into the corners,” Harvick told Fox Sports1. “My guys are doing a great job and we just have to keep doing everything we’ve been doing and we have fast race cars.”
Logano’s qualifying effort last August snapped the previous mark set by Marcos Ambrose (203.241 mph) in June 2012, after the track had been repaved during the offseason. Ambrose’s run two years ago had shattered the previous MIS speed record of Ryan Newman by more than nine mph.
Also of note:
* Hendrick Motorsports placed three drivers in the top seven starters: Jeff Gordon will start from the outside pole, Pocono winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts third and Jimmie Johnson starts seventh.
Earnhardt is seeking his third win at Michigan, while Johnson is still seeking his first career Cup win at the two-mile, high-speed oval.
* Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola qualified fourth, Team Penske saw Brad Keselowski qualify fifth while teammate Joey Logano was ninth.
* In a very odd twist, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray qualified 11th, but teammate Kyle Larson did not go out and make a run in the final qualifying round, relegating him to a 12th-place starting position.
* Juan Pablo Montoya, making the first of two appearances in a Sprint Cup race this season (he’ll also attempt to make next month’s Brickyard 400), qualified 28th for Sunday’s race.
“This place is so quick, that getting used to the car is hard,” Montoya said. “There was so much push that the car wouldn’t turn at all.
“It’s exciting to be here with Team Penske and Ford. It’s a hell of an opportunity. The idea of being here in Michigan is more of getting myself and Greg (crew chief Greg Erwin) ready for Indy. Our big goal is to go to Indy and win.”
Ryan Truex had the 39th-fastest speed in the first round, but because of provisional starts for other drivers from 36th through 43rd, is the only driver who did not qualify for Sunday’s race. It’s the third DNQ for Truex thus far in his rookie Sprint Cup season.
Here’s the starting grid for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway:
Row 1: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon
Row 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Aric Almirola
Row 3: Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski
Row 4: Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch
Row 5: Joey Logano, Brian Vickers
Row 6: Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson
Row 7: Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch
Row 8: Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr.
Row 9: Justin Allgaier, Greg Biffle
Row 10: Austin Dillon, Marcos Ambrose
Row 11: Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards
Row 12: Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman
Row 13: AJ Allmendinger, Tony Stewart
Row 14: Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo Montoya
Row 15: Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 16: Casey Mears, David Gilliland
Row 17: David Ragan, Brian Moffitt
Row 18: J.J. Yeley, David Stremme
Row 19: Michael Annett, Josh Wise
Row 20: Landon Cassill, Reed Sorenson
Row 21: Alex Bowman, Cole Whitt
Row 22: Travis Kvapil
Failed to qualify (DNQ): Ryan Truex
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