Monday June 18th, 2018 7:14PM

Kevin Harvick wins second Darlington pole

By Pete McCole Racing reporter
  Contact Editor

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Kevin Harvick scored his second Darlington pole in Saturday’s qualifying for Sunday’s Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Driving throwback paint scheme on his No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet honoring five-time Southern 500 winner Cale Yarborough, Harvick swept all three rounds of qualifying to secure his fourth pole of the season and 21st of his career.

Martin Truex, Jr. took second, followed by Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.

Harvick lapped the field with a speed of 177.730 mph to knock his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch from the top spot, then sweated it out as Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and then Truex tried and failed to unseat Harvick from the top spot.

It was the third-career front-row start in the Southern 500 for Harvick, who finished runner-up to Truex, Jr. in last year's race.

“It feels pretty good.  We're on the pole,” said Harvick. “It's been a good start to the weekend for us and the car is driving good and we we're able to put three laps together.  Everything is going well."

Harvick paced the opening round of qualifying, running 178.187 mph to lead Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, McMurray and Truex, Jr. to advance to the second round.

Round two was more of the same, with Harvick going right back on top after a single lap, clocking in with a 177.511 mph run to lead Erik Jones, McMurray, Larson and Kyle Busch.

The opening rounds set the stage for Harvick’s final run for the pole as the sixth driver to take to the track, going straight to the top of the scoring pylon for the final time the second straight year and taking the coveted first pit stall for Sunday night’s race.

“Track position is never a disadvantage….the biggest advantage here is the first pit stall because the timing line is so close to the pit exit there with the first stall.  So that's really the biggest advantage,” said Harvick. “I think if your car is handling good, you can make your way through traffic, but having that first pit stall if you car is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop and hopefully keep that track position all night.  That's really the biggest advantage."

Defending race winner Martin Truex, Jr. collected his career-best Darlington start, looking to rebound from last week’s disappointing 21st-place finish at Bristol that snapped his three-race top-five-finish streak.

“That was definitely a good, successful qualifying session for us,” said Truex, Jr. “It – we thought we were off a little bit the first round then just kept working on the car and kind of adjusted the driving style a little throughout all three rounds and we ended up second. So seems like we’ve been second a lot this year and it’s been a good number for us and hopefully it’ll be a good one tomorrow night.”

Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Jones rounded out the top ten qualifiers.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Darlington Raceway – Darlington, SC
Bojangles’ Southern 500 – September 2, 2017

Saturday’s Qualifying Results

1. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 177.730 mph.
2. (78) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 177.077 mph.
3. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 176.682 mph.
4. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 176.568 mph.
5. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 176.422 mph.
6. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 176.107 mph.
7. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 176.037 mph.
8. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 176.006 mph.
9. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 175.918 mph.
10. (77) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 175.403 mph.
11. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 175.372 mph.
12. (21) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 175.022 mph.
13. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 175.830 mph.
14. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 175.391 mph.
15. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 175.328 mph.
16. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 175.291 mph.
17. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 175.060 mph.
18. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 175.022 mph.
19. (19) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 174.948 mph.
20. (24) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 174.910 mph.
21. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 174.662 mph.
22. (88) Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chevrolet, 174.618 mph.
23. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 174.007 mph.
24. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 173.712 mph.
25. (13) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 174.804 mph.
26. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 174.718 mph.
27. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 174.556 mph.
28. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 174.482 mph.
29. (47) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 173.761 mph.
30. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 173.705 mph.
31. (34) Landon Cassill, Ford, 172.978 mph.
32. (15) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 171.824 mph.
33. (10) Danica Patrick, Ford, 171.758 mph.
34. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 171.458 mph.
35. (23) Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 171.441 mph.
36. (83) Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 170.958 mph.
37. (33) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 170.301 mph.
38. (55) Derrike Cope, Toyota, 167.425 mph.
39. (51) Cody Ware, Chevrolet, 166.326 mph.
40. (66) Carl Long(i), Chevrolet, 165.592 mph.

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