Kansas City, Kan. — Kevin Harvick had to race onto the track after finally passing through inspection just as the first round of qualifying was beginning for Saturday’s race at Kansas Speedway.
By the time things were settled, Harvick had raced his way to the pole.
Fresh off his fourth win of the season last week at Dover, Harvick turned a best lap of 188.811 mph Friday night to easily claim the top starting spot. Ryan Blaney was a distant second in 187.825 mph, with Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott rounding out the top five.
“It really shows the experience of the race team. We’re going on our fifth year together and you look at how calm everybody stayed,” Harvick said of the pre-qualifying inspection. “That’s really what makes us tick week after week, and the guys are performing at a high level.
It was Harvick’s fourth pole at Kansas, his most at any track on the Cup Series circuit — yet the perfectionist in him was left ruing a couple of bobbles that could have made his lap even better.
“I hate when I don’t get the most out of the car. They give me really fast race cars to drive every week,” he said. “We were able to get the pole so that’s obviously a big advantage. You get that first pit stall and any advantage we can get we’ll take.”
Other drivers weren’t as fortunate getting through inspection.
There were 10 cars still trying to clear it when the first qualifying session started, and several never made it on the track by the end. That included Matt Kenseth, who is making his return this week in the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, and Clint Bowyer, the hometown favorite from Emporia, Kansas.
“You know, Matt’s big debut not getting on the racetrack probably isn’t very good either,” said Bowyer, who has long sought his first Cup win at Kansas. “I don’t know. It’s a pretty bad taste in my mouth right now. It’s hard not to go off because it’s pretty frustrating.”
Bowyer said the lack of clarity in getting through inspection was especially vexing.
“The body is good, then the chassis is off. It’s just super frustrating,” he said. “We were fifth-quick in practice and — really, NASCAR has a job to do and it’s hard. It’s difficult to do. And govern everybody on a fair and level playing field. But I don’t think this is the answer either.”
Power claims IndyCar pole
Will Power turned his fastest lap on his final qualifying run, edging rookie Robert Wickens to capture the IndyCar Grand Prix pole for the third time in four years. He completed the 2.439-mile, 14-turn course in 1 minute, 9.8182 seconds.
“It’s definitely satisfying when you get a pole like this because you’ve got to work so hard for it these days,” the Australian said. “I like to give the young blokes a hard time when I can.”
Power, 37, has shown no signs of slowing down with the Chevrolet-powered Team Penske.
He was the second fastest qualifier in the first group, the third fastest in the second group and then sped past Wickens after time expired in the final group. Wickens, who drives for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, turned a lap of 1:09.9052.
Gragson wins truck race
Noah Gragson won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, starting from the pole and leading 128 of the 167 laps.
Driving Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Toyota, the 19-year-old Gragson took the lead when Myatt Snider ran out of fuel with five laps remaining.
Gragson won for the first time this season and the second in the series. The Las Vegas driver swept the first two stages, winning a week after wrecking late after starting from the pole in Dover.
“This is such a relief for a driver who had a hard week last week battling for the win,” Gragson said. “We came back strong this weekend. Two consecutive poles. We led the most laps today.”
Car owner Kyle Busch overcame late contact with Stewart Friesen and a run through the infield grass to finish second, 1.558 seconds back.