Kevin Harvick scored his 18th career pole on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, laying down a lap of 29.118 seconds. For Harvick and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 crew, it was a continuation of the strength the team showed at Daytona.
Harvick’s average speed of 190.398 made him the only driver to post a lap above 190 mph. Ryan Newman was second fastest in his Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. Harvick scored his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Atlanta in 2001 in only his third start. However, he has not returned to victory lane at the 1.5 mile quad oval since.
For Stewart-Haas Racing, the 2017 season has brought change. The retirement of team owner Tony Stewart and the switch from Chevrolet to Ford has meant questions. So far, the organization has provided solid answers.
Kurt Busch scored the first Daytona 500 win for both himself and the team last Sunday. The win came on the heels of Harvick’s victory in the second stage of the event. In fact, had Harvick not been involved in a crash along with the SHR cars of Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer, Daytona may have been an even bigger success.
“The one thing that has stayed consistent is really good people.” Harvick said after qualifying. “We’re excited to have had a good day and looking to carry the momentum into Sunday.”
Qualifying third was Kyle Busch, the Daytona stage 1 winner, Ricky Stenhouse was fourth, and Brad Keselowski posted the fifth fastest time. Other notables were Denny Hamlin, who was 10th, Chase Elliott 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr in 12th, Kurt Busch in 13th, Matt Kenseth 16th, and defending race and series champion Jimmie Johnson in 18th.
The green flag drops on the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sunday, March 5th at 2:45 pm ET.
About the author
Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.
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