In a furious ten minute final session as rain threatened and lightning crashed nearby Kevin Harvick scored his series high fifth pole Friday night and will lead the field to the green flag for Saturday nights NASCAR Sprint Cup series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick put down a new track record lap of 14.607 or 131.362 miles per hour with a shower of sparks at the 5:30 mark. Jeff Gordon who led for the first of two sessions and part of the final session will start second, Carl Edwards starts third, Kyle Busch fourth and Joey Logano will start fifth.
“It feels great,” Harvick said.”Track position is definitely as important as it is anywhere here with the current groove and where you are running. I felt good about our car during practice and just have to stay in there all night and do the best we can.”
Kasey Kahne was first off for the final session, followed by Edwards who led with the fast lap for the first two minutes . Jimmie Johnson and Logano came out right behind but neither was able to beat Edwards; Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon were next to try, Keselowski was sixth, but Gordon was able to take over the top spot on his second lap 14.615 and held it until Harvick’s lap a minute later.
By the five-minute mark, only Marcos Ambrose waited to put down a lap. He waited until the 4:30 mark. With an empty track, Ambrose took a flying lap but could do no better than 8th. Ryan Newman came out again and nearly hit the wall on his second lap and backed down. With 2:40 left, Logano came out again to try and improve on his 4th place run but fell short.
Greg Biffle, Keselowski, Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Johnson came out in the final minute but none could improve and Harvick celebrated his 11th career pole.
Johnson secured sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Biffle eighth. Keselowski will start ninth, Ambrose tenth with Newman and Kahne 11th and 12 respectively.
Rickey Stenhouse Jr. , who finished second here in the spring, led the final practice session earlier in the day, but spent 19 of the 30 minutes of the first round in technical inspection. He was able to join the first session but failed to advance and will start 21st Saturday night. Complete qualifying results can be found here, the full lineup here.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 gets the green Saturday night just past 7:30 p.m. ET with live coverage on ABC.