Coca-Cola 600 Pole to Harvick

May 25, 2017 | Professional Writing

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CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick turned the fastest lap in Thursday’s qualifying session and will lead the field to green in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick’s fast lap of 193.424 mph earned him his third pole of the season, all of which have come on 1.5 mile speedways, and the 20th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in his 586th start. It’s also the second-straight pole for Harvick at Charlotte.

“Our cars have been fast, we’ve qualified well. We’ve had a lot of speed. We just haven’t put together the weekend,” Harvick said. “The car unloaded fast and was very edgy to drive. It was a hairy lap.

“The cars in qualifying were a lot looser than they were in practice. It was a handful through one and two and I about lost it the first run. The guys did a good job of making adjustments.”

Harvick is looking for his third win in the Coca-Cola 600 since 2001 but says it’s one of the more difficult races to win each year.

“The hardest part about this race is probably keeping all the parts and pieces together,” Harvick said. “This is the one time a year we run 600 miles. Mentally, it’s a hard race starting in the day. It’ll be hot. The cars will be different than what they were in practice. There’s a lot of things going on that you have to take in.”

Kyle Busch will lineup second in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, his best starting position of the season and third front-row start in his career at Charlotte.

Busch is looking to sweep the month of May in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte after going to Victory Lane last Saturday night in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

“Track position means a lot here so it’s certainly better to start up front than to start farther back,” Busch said. “Good pit selection for us. Gives us the opportunity to kind of choose where we want and be in a good spot for the daytime on Sunday.”

Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones completed the top-five fastest qualifiers.

“From the first round to the end I thought we made it better,” Elliott said. “It’s a long race. Third is a plenty good enough starting spot. This is an area we need to improve on in qualifying. I’m really happy we did that and get a great pit stall selection, which is helpful for 600 miles worth of racing.”

“Qualifying is very important, restarts, pit stops, strategy and all that stuff is important,” Kenseth said. “Especially with all those stage points on the line throughout the race. We had some pretty good speed in our Camry today. I’m glad we had a decent lap.”

Eight-time Charlotte winner Jimmie Johnson will roll off from the 14th starting position. His teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start from 19th on Sunday, Joey Logano from 23rd and Kasey Kahne 25th.

Points leader Kyle Larson, who failed to turn a qualifying lap after not passing inspection in time, will start 39th.

“I guess I’m upset at myself for getting into the wall in practice there because it put us behind on getting to the tech line,” Larson said. “We still failed a couple of times. The machine wouldn’t work there, late, and it cost us a minute and we actually passed. We didn’t have enough time to get out there.”

All 40 cars who entered will start Sunday’s 400-lap, 600-mile race, the longest event of the NASCAR season.

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