BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kevin Harvick has become the best qualifier in NASCAR’s top series, at least for this season.
The veteran driver won the pole position for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night. It’s his series-high fifth top starting spot of the season, and just the 11th in 490 starts in his career. The secret?
“Faster cars,” Harvick said with a wide grin. “That’s it.’”
Harvick, in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, set a track record with a lap at 131.362 mph that knocked Jeff Gordon from the top spot. Gordon, the series points leader, will start second at 131.290.
“Any time you beat the 24 right now, things are going ok,” Harvick said.
Gordon was equally pleased.
“I thought I had a really good laps that first run out,” he said. “I came on the radio and I said, ‘That is all I got.’ When you go do that and the car is well balanced and you get a good lap, you know that it’s up to somebody else to just take a little more risk and maybe get it, and Kevin did that.”
Carl Edwards, who won here in the spring, will start third, with Kyle Busch fourth. Busch has won five times in his career on the 0.533-mile oval, but said he’s concerned the lone groove around the top of the track could be problematic.
“I think the race is going to be frustrating — not a lot of passing,” he said. “I think a lot of guys are going to be up around the top. Everybody is going to be up around the top.”
Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson are in the third row, with Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle in the fourth.
Biffle is the only one of the top eight qualifiers who has not sealed a spot in the championship. He will start the race 16th in points, but with three drivers trailing him by 24 points or fewer as they try to climb into the top 16.
“We’ll keep working on it,” he said. “Bristol is hard to judge, but our car is driving good and I can run pretty consistent laps, so I feel like we’ve got a solid top 10 car.”
Blaney steals 1 from Kyle Busch on final restart: In Bristol, Tenn, Ryan Blaney bolted past Kyle Busch on a restart with six laps remaining and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night for his second career victory.
Blaney’s victory was a surprise after Busch, seeking to become the first driver ever to win four consecutive races in the series on the 0.533-mile oval, had dominated, especially on restarts.
Battling at various times against the youngest and brightest stars in the series, Busch generally made quick work of them. He led 161 of the 300 laps and seemed poised for his record 67th victory in the series. But on the final restart, Blaney darted to the lead from the inside, and Busch never quite caught up.
Truex cleared for Bristol
Ryan Truex is back behind the wheel of his Toyota for BK Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The driver missed last weekend’s race at Michigan after he sustained a concussion during a single-car crash during practice. The 22-year-old rookie was taken to the hospital and underwent CT scans of his head, neck, chest and abdomen, which were all negative.
J.J. Yeley filled in and finished 30th.
Truex was cleared to race on Thursday. He is 37th in the points standings heading into Saturday night’s race.
Verstappen focused on exams as well as F1 history:In Spa, Belgium, Max Verstappen will find himself in a unique position next year: fitting school exams around his debut as the youngest ever Formula One driver.
When the 2015 F1 championship starts in Australia in March, Verstappen will be only 17. It will also be his final year of school, as he shares the cockpit with the classroom.
The Dutch teen, who competes in this year’s European Formula Three title, has been signed by Toro Rosso — Red Bull’s feeder club — in a move that divides F1 opinion.
Several drivers, including Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Adrian Sutil, have questioned whether Verstappen is old enough to compete.
But the fresh-faced Verstappen sees things differently.
“I was always (taking) big steps. From karting to F3 was obviously a big step. I think I am ready for it,” he said at a news conference Friday at the Belgian Grand Prix.
“Age is just a number and it’s on the track where you have to show.”