Kevin Harvick On The Pole For The 68th Running Of The Bojangles’ Southern 500by Hunter Thomas September 2, 2017
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Kevin Harvick captured the pole for the 68th running of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday after running a lap of 27.669 seconds at 177.730 mph.
Harvick has started in the top spot twice before at the track Too Tough To Tame. In 2014, he won from the pole, and last year when rain washed out qualifying, Harivck finished second after starting first. On Saturday, Harvick won all three rounds of Coors Light Pole Qualifying to capture his 21st career series pole. Harvick, the driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford says that pit stall selection is the biggest advantage to starting on the pole at Darlington.
“Track position is never a disadvantage no matter if it’s high tire wear, low tire wear the biggest advantage here is the first pit stall because the timing line is so close to the pit exit there with the first stall,” Harvick said. “So that’s really the biggest advantage. I think if your car is handling good, you can make your way through traffic, but having that first pit stall if you car is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop and hopefully keep that track position all night. That’s really the biggest advantage.”
Starting second on Sunday will be defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. He has started within the top-10 at Darlington Raceway on five occasions. The driver of the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boats 40th Toyota is currently the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader.
“Feels good,” Truex Jr. “That was definitely a good, successful qualifying session for us. It – we thought we were off a little bit the first round then just kept working on the car and kind of adjusted the driving style a little throughout all three rounds and we ended up second. So seems like we’ve been second a lot this year and it’s been a good number for us and hopefully it’ll be a good one tomorrow night.”
Kyle Busch, 2008 Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner, will start third. Busch finished 11th in the prestigious race last season. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota enters the weekend coming off a win at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch has started within the top-10 in 21 of the first 25 races this season.
“It was okay,” Busch said. “You know, car felt really, really good first round, second round and then there just made the right adjustments – jus the race track wasn’t quite what we expected it to be, so it was just a tick loose the last run and came home with a third, so we’ll take that and be happy with it and start up front.”
Rounding out the top-five are Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.
Larson said, “I got through Turn Three and Turn Four better (than previous runs) but I was still too loose to commit to wide-open throttle, which hurt my overall speed. It’s a lot better than I’ve ever qualified here, so hopefully that will give us a better pit stall selection for tomorrow’s race. This is a fun place, but it’s definitely tough.”
Brad Keselowski will start sixth, followed by Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones.
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.