Kevin Harvick Edges Teammate Kurt Busch For Talladega NASCAR Cup Pole

Story By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – TALLADEGA, AL – Kevin Harvick hadn’t won a pole at a restrictor-plate track since 2005.

Kurt Busch had never topped qualifying for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at a superspeedway

But those two Stewart-Haas Racing Ford drivers were the class of the field during time trials on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, where Harvick outdueled Busch to secure his first Busch Pole Award of the season.

In the decisive second round, Harvick covered the 2.66-mile distance in 49.247 seconds (194.448 mph) to earn his second Talladega pole and the 22nd of his career. Busch was close behind with a 49.340-second lap (194.082 mph) in the money round.

The two Fords will start on the front row in Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), ahead of Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr. (193.525 mph) and Denny Hamlin (192.936 mph), who qualified third and fourth, respectively.

“We had no clue as to how fast the car would actually run,” said Harvick, who scored his lone victory at Talladega in 2010. “We knew we had a fast car, but we didn’t do any qualifying runs (in practice) or anything like that.”

In fact, Harvick’s run in the first round was halted when teammate Aric Almirola’s Ford spun out of control with a tire down, and Harvick ran through the debris from the No. 10 Ford.

“The first indicator was the first time on the race track, and that was even a little bit of a question, because of the fact that we had to change the tires and cool the engine down,” Harvick said. “We didn’t know what the pickup in the car was going to be – or not be.

“It’s always a little bit of a surprise.”

Harvick’s pole-winning run in the No. 4 Ford denied Busch a milestone he coveted.

“I’ve never been on the pole for a plate race and wanted to check it off,” Busch said. “It was a bucket-list item. I really wanted the pole today.

“But two Stewart-Haas Fords on the front row – we’d have loved to have gotten the pole, but we’re outside pole, and I’m proud of our Monster Energy Ford.”

Chase Elliott qualified fifth in the fastest Chevrolet (192.754 mph), followed by Erik Jones and defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr.. Series leader Kyle Busch, who is seeking a fourth straight Cup victory, failed to advance to the second round and will start 19th.

Five-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski will start 10th, to the outside of Team Penske teammate Joey Logano.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – GEICO 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega, Alabama
Saturday, April 28, 2018

1. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 194.448 mph.
2. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 194.082 mph.
3. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 193.525 mph.
4. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 192.936 mph.
5. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 192.754 mph.
6. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 192.730 mph.
7. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 191.904 mph.
8. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 191.723 mph.
9. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 191.643 mph.
10. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 191.344 mph.
11. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 191.248 mph.
12. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 191.088 mph.
13. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 191.486 mph.
14. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 191.478 mph.
15. (43) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 191.313 mph.
16. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 191.260 mph.
17. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 191.187 mph.
18. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 191.111 mph.
19. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 191.103 mph.
20. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 190.993 mph.
21. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 190.985 mph.
22. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 190.943 mph.
23. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 190.495 mph.
24. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 190.140 mph.
25. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 189.797 mph.
26. (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 189.767 mph.
27. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.721 mph.
28. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 189.714 mph.
29. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.645 mph.
30. (62) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 188.630 mph.
31. (96) DJ Kennington, Toyota, 187.232 mph.
32. (92) Timothy Peters(i), Ford, 187.068 mph.
33. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 186.598 mph.
34. (00) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 186.000 mph.
35. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 185.711 mph.
36. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 185.187 mph.
37. (23) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 183.793 mph.
38. (55) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 182.846 mph.
39. (51) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 181.891 mph.
40. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 175.372 mph.