Harvick wins Charlotte pole; Cup leader Larson starts last

Harvick wins Charlotte pole; Cup leader Larson starts last

Harvick wins Charlotte pole; Cup leader Larson starts last

It's only the second time a Ford has won the pole in the last 16 Cup races at Charlotte.

"It's long, it's hot and it's a demanding race track", Harvick said.

"From the first round to the end I thought we made it better", Elliott said.

Kevin Harvick might be a two-time Coca-Cola 600 victor but he managed to accomplish a first Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the All-Star race victor Saturday, will start alongside Harvick on the front row.

"We gained a big advantage with (choice of) pit stall", said Harvick, noting a subtle plus during pit stops for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

Busch has won eight Xfinity Series races and seven Truck Series races at Charlotte, but is 0 for 26 in Cup points races. Some of it Busch has brought on himself with poor decisions or costly driving errors, while some of it has been out of his control. "I can pretty much memorize the schedule where we're at right now, so it's going to throw me for a little bit of a loop not knowing where we're going the following week". The teams point at NASCAR. His night ended in frustration when his engine blew up on Lap 253.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver had smacked the outside wall in opening practice, causing damage to the right side of his vehicle late in the day's lone practice session. A second consecutive Coca-Cola 600 win is a strong possibility for this driver and team.

With a lap of 193.424 miles per hour in qualifying, Harvick earned his first pole for the season's longest race.

"The cars in qualifying were a lot looser than they were in practice". Jones was the fastest in the first practice earlier Thursday.

He knows how important it is to run out front in Charlotte in the clean air. Truex led 392 of 400 laps a year ago and is the defending victor of the Coca-Cola 600.

Series leader Kyle Larson never got on track to make a qualifying run.

Busch said he won despite not having the best vehicle.

Crew chief Adam Stevens said it's only a matter of time before Busch finds his way to victory lane at Charlotte in a Cup points race. "Wouldn't say here has been a struggle, but it's just been hard to finish it off".

"I typically don't qualify well here anyway", Larson said. "Certainly this year he's really been in position a bunch".

There might not be a big tangible advantage to winning the pole for NASCAR's longest race, but Kevin Harvick was grateful for one strategic reward.

If Ryan Blaney's reaction was anything typical Thursday, NASCAR drivers are hopeful, yet wary, of the sealer applied to Charlotte Motor Speedway's driving surface.

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