Another Friday, another Sprint Cup pole for Kevin Harvick

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Kevin Harvick continues to set the standard in qualifying this season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver earned his eighth Cup pole of 2014 and his third consecutive Cup pole on the fast, 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway with a track record lap of 197.621 miles per hour.

But will this set him up for a critical victory in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 that would put him into the Eliminator Round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

Or is he in for more disappointment like he had one week ago at Dover – and at multiple other points this season?

Harvick feels that good luck is all he and his No. 4 team really needs. Indeed, it appears they have pretty much everything else down.

“I just feel like with a little bit of good luck, we can beat every car on the race track on any given weekend at any style of race track,” he told ESPN. “And that’s a really positive, good feeling to have as a race car driver.

“Our guys have a lot of confidence in what they’re putting on the race track, and everybody knows that if the chips fall right, we have the speed and the cars to do what we need to do.

“We’ve made adjustments with the reliability from the beginning of the year and the pit crew…Everything’s there. It’s just a matter of everything coming together on the luck side and we’ll just keep plugging away.”

Joining Harvick on the front row will be Brian Vickers, whose strong lap of 196.307 mph was still more than one mile per hour off Harvick’s pole run.

Seven other Chasers managed to get in the final round of qualifying and will be starting toward the front. This group is led by Joey Logano, who will be on the outside of Row 2 alongside the recently eliminated Aric Almirola.

Last week’s winner, Jeff Gordon, and Brad Keselowski are in Row 3 followed by Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Row 4. Non-Chase competitor Tony Stewart will join Kasey Kahne in Row 5, and Row 6 features Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle (like Almirola, eliminated at Dover) and Carl Edwards.

But farther back, three Chasers in particular will be facing a tough climb on Sunday afternoon.

Denny Hamlin ran an identical time – a 27.873 – with Newman for the final advance position in the opening round, but because Newman had a higher Chase seed going into Kansas, Newman got to move to Round 2.

Hamlin will start 25th, just two spots ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth in 27th. And defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will be in an even bigger hole, having to start 32nd following a spin in Turn 2 with about five minutes left in Round 1.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT KANSAS – Hollywood Casino 400
Qualifying Results
1. *4-Kevin Harvick
2. 55-Brian Vickers
3. 43-Aric Almirola
4. *22-Joey Logano
5. *24-Jeff Gordon
6. *2-Brad Keselowski
7. *18-Kyle Busch
8. *88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. 14-Tony Stewart
10. *5-Kasey Kahne
11. 16-Greg Biffle
12. *99-Carl Edwards
13. 27-Paul Menard
14. 1-Jamie McMurray
15. 78-Martin Truex Jr.
16. 3-Austin Dillon
17. *31-Ryan Newman
18. 42-Kyle Larson
19. 15-Clint Bowyer
20. 47-A.J. Allmendinger
21. 51-Justin Allgaier
22. 9-Marcos Ambrose
23. 17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
24. 41-Kurt Busch
25. *11-Denny Hamlin
26. 13-Casey Mears
27. *20-Matt Kenseth
28. 95-Michael McDowell
29. 10-Danica Patrick
30. 36-Reed Sorenson
31. 38-David Gilliland
32. *48-Jimmie Johnson
33. 23-Alex Bowman
34. 98-Josh Wise
35. 40-Landon Cassill
36. 7-Michael Annett
37. 34-David Ragan
38. 83-J.J. Yeley
39. 26-Cole Whitt
40. 33-Timmy Hill
41. 37-Mike Bliss
42. 32-Joey Gase
43. 66-Mike Wallace
*Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.