Miss Coors Light asks Brian Vickers how he came from the back of the pack to win his first pole since 2009 and how he plans to stay out front at Talladega on Sunday while boss, Michael Waltrip, stopped by to congratulate him.
Stewart-Haas Racing driver picks up eighth pole of season RELATED: Get the full race lineup KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kevin Harvick feels his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet can beat every other car on the track, and on Friday he did. For the eighth time this season. After destroying his own track record in the second round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying, Harvick sped around 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in 27.235 seconds (197.621 mph) in the final session to win the pole for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) and affirm his status as the speed car in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Coors Light Pole Award was Harvick's third straight at Kansas, his eighth of the season and the 14th of his career. Harvick's money lap was only slightly slower than the 197.773 mph he ran in posting the top speed in the second round, a lap that blew away the previous track record of 194.658 mph he set on May 9. Non-Chaser Brian Vickers qualified second at 196.307 mph for the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase. Aric Almirola (196.150 mph), eliminated from the Chase last week at Dover, claimed the third starting spot. Chase drivers occupied the next five spots on the grid: Joey Logano , Jeff Gordon , Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . Though Harvick now has eight poles, he has but two victories this year, and he hasn't won a Sprint Cup race since April at Darlington. "For whatever reason this (track) fits everything I have going on with my driving style," Harvick said. "In the end, it's about having fast cars. Obviously, last year we had a fast car, and this year we've had a fast car as well. I have to thank everyone on the Budweiser team for staying focused, continuing to build faster race cars and doing everything we need to do -- that we can control. "The cars are fast, we're qualifying well. The pit stops are good. The cars are reliable. Everything is going good. We just need the good luck to go with it. It's like I keep telling these guys, everything will come full circle, and hopefully it does it at the right time this year. ... With a little bit of good luck, I just feel we can beat every car on the race track on any given week at any style race track, and that's a really positive, good feeling to have." Gordon, last week's winner at Dover, felt he got all he could out of his lap (196.050 mph) but was no match for Harvick. "I'm happy with where we ended up," Gordon said. "I feel like that's about where we were. Kevin was in another league." In sharp contrast to Harvick's flawless qualifying performance, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson had more than his share of issues. Trying to improve on a lackluster first lap, Johnson spun during his second attempt in the first round and will start 32nd on Sunday. Other Chase drivers qualified as follows: Kasey Kahne , 10th; Carl Edwards , 12th; Ryan Newman , 17th; Denny Hamlin , 25th; and Matt Kenseth , 27th. The Cup cars are back on track Saturday with a pair of practices that run from 11-11:50 a.m. ET (FS1) and 2-2:50 p.m. ET (FS2). FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Rachel Rupert catches up with Kyle Busch after he collects his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season.
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MWR driver ends five-year pole drought in topsy-turvy Talladega qualifying
SHR driver earns seventh pole of the 2014 season MORE: Full starting lineup " Complete standings entering Dover RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DOVER, Del. -- Kevin Harvick is starting from the optimum position after winning the Coors Light Pole for Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The question is whether the driver known as "The Closer" can finally close the deal from the front row. Harvick covered the one-mile distance in 22.095 seconds (162.933 mph) to edge Kyle Busch (162.404 mph) for the top spot on the grid. Denny Hamlin (162.250 mph) qualified third, followed by series leader Brad Keselowski (162.140 mph), Jamie McMurray (161.936 mph) and Jeff Gordon (161.573 mph). Entering the first elimination race in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Harvick is in little danger of missing the cut, having finished fifth and third in the first two Chase events. But the Coors Light pole award at the Monster Mile is Harvick's seventh of the season, and only once this year, at Darlington in April, has he won a race from the top starting spot. The five-month absence from Victory Lane, however, isn't weighing on Harvick. "Not at all," said Harvick, who won his first pole at Dover and the 13th of his career. "I've been around this deal way too long to complain about top-five finishes. There are a lot of circumstances that go into winning a race at a lot of these places, and you just have to keep knocking on that door. "And then you'll win some that you shouldn't win, and a lot of times you don't win the ones that you think you should have won, and you win the ones that you don't think you should have won. So you just keep finishing in the top five or top three, and everything else will fall into place." Busch is solidly inside the Chase bubble, but Hamlin is 13th after last week's star-crossed 37th-place run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and in danger of elimination coming to a track where he expects to excel. "I expected to come here and contend for a pole and, really, contend for a win this weekend," Hamlin said. "No matter what happened last weekend, it didn't affect my mind-set as far as what my expectations were when I got to this race track. "There's a little bit more pressure to perform this weekend, so we hope things fall our way." A little more pressure? How about a lot? "This will be the hardest race that I'll definitely ever drive -- 400 miles," Hamlin acknowledged. "I'm just going to be as aggressive as I can, but not put myself in a bad position. This is the most important race of my career, because it's the most significant of my career at this point. "We've got to get the job done, and I'm going to do my part to make sure we're successful." Other Chase drivers on the outside of the bubble qualified as follows: Greg Biffle , 27th; Kurt Busch , 22nd; and Aric Almirola , 21st. Besides Harvick, Busch, Hamlin, Keselowski and Gordon, the remaining top-12 Chase drivers will start from the following positions: Jimmie Johnson , eighth; Kasey Kahne , 12th; Matt Kenseth , 14th; Joey Logano , 16th; Carl Edwards , 18th; Ryan Newman , 20th; and AJ Allmendinger , 28th. Following Sunday's race, 12 Chase drivers will advance for the first time to the Contender Round of NASCAR's revamped 10-race playoffs. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView Where the Chase drivers will start Driver Starting spot Brad Keselowski 4 Joey Logano 16 Kevin Harvick 1 Jimmie Johnson 8 Kyle Busch 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 25 Jeff Gordon 6 Matt Kenseth 14 Carl Edwards 18 AJ Allmendinger 28 Kasey Kahne 12 Ryan Newman 20 Denny Hamlin 3 Greg Biffle 27 Kurt Busch 22 Aric Almirola 21