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Harvick Fuels Hot Start With Phoenix Pole

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 14 2015

Kevin Harvick will start Sunday's Sprint Cup race in Arizona from the pole. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kevin Harvick says he has some great memories of Phoenix International Raceway. He added one more on Friday when he won the pole for Sunday’s Camping World.com 500 Sprint Cup race at the quirky track in the desert.

“This is a pretty special place,” Harvick, a native of neighboring Southern California, said after winning that pole. “All these West Coast races are special, but this one in particular just for the fact that we used to bring our Southwest Tour cars here and our Winston West cars. We struggled a little bit for quite some time and then it all clicked” at PIR.

Harvick earned the pole with a run in 25.577 seconds (140.751 mph) during the final round of Friday’s knockout qualifying session.

It was the first pole of the season for Harvick, his first at PIR and the 15th of his career.

“I didn’t actually know that we hadn’t been on pole here,” the 2014 Sprint Cup champion said, “but to get that first pole with these guys and celebrate anything that we hadn’t done or have done. Every week is just a new adventure and it’s pretty special to be a part of a group of guys like this.”

That group of Stewart-Haas Racing guys has started out the season with three straight podium finishes as he and they finished second in the season-opening Daytona 500, second at race No. 2 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and then won last weekend at Las Vegas.

On Friday, Harvick was asked about the possibilities of sweeping Cup’s West Coast swing by winning at PIR on Sunday and then in Fontana, Calif. next weekend.

“We never talk about stuff like that,” Harvick said. “We just talk about what we think the air pressure and speeds. We don’t talk about things we’ve done. We always talk about the things we do wrong and we talk about the things that we need to do different. It’s never really anything about last week. It’s always about next week and the things that we have to do to try to be prepared when we come to the race track.”

Joey Logano of Team Penske was second fastest in qualifying (140.543 mph).

Logano described his car during time trials as “just a little bit on the snug side.”

“I want to be first – second’s just the first loser,” said the 2015 Daytona 500 winner. “But we definitely picked up a lot of speed when we went to qualifying trim.”

Logano is off to a pretty quick start himself this season.

He won the Daytona 500 and finished fourth and 10th the last two weeks.

He was asked if he could beat Harick at PIR – a track where the defending series champion has won six Cup races.

“He’s human like anyone else,” Logano said. “He’s beatable, believe me. We just have to figure out the way to do it. I feel plenty confident in my team that we can do it. We have to work hard and try to figure it out. He knows something running here – he just knows what he needs in the race car, whether he’s figuring that out in practice or it is a setup thing.

“I doubt it is a setup thing, though, because he has been fast in both cars he has driven here. I think it is something he looks for and a feel that he’s able to maintain his tires throughout a long run. I think that’s what we all strive for, to figure that part out. We have identified that is where he beats us, we have to fix it. Half the battle is figuring out where you are getting beat. We are making strides and I feel like we’re getting closer.”

Jamie McMurray qualified third at 140.422 mph, followed by Matt Kenseth (140.072 mph) and Ryan Newman (139.833 mph). Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 16th and Danica Patrick 23rd.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – CampingWorld.com 500

Phoenix International Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Friday, March 13, 2015

1. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 140.751 mph.

2. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 140.543 mph.

3. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 140.422 mph.

4. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 140.072 mph.

5. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 139.833 mph.

6. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 139.817 mph.

7. (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 139.779 mph.

8. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 139.665 mph.

9. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 139.643 mph.

10. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 139.535 mph.

11. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 138.969 mph.

12. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 138.755 mph.

13. (18) David Ragan, Toyota, 139.157 mph.

14. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 139.141 mph.

15. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 138.884 mph.

16. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 138.814 mph.

17. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 138.718 mph.

18. (55) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 138.654 mph.

19. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 138.515 mph.

20. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 138.483 mph.

21. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 138.478 mph.

22. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 138.430 mph.

23. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 138.297 mph.

24. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 137.862 mph.

25. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 137.562 mph.

26. (7) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 137.363 mph.

27. (9) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 137.211 mph.

28. (51) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 136.674 mph.

29. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 136.586 mph.

30. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 136.550 mph.

31. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 136.467 mph.

32. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 136.405 mph.

33. (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 136.266 mph.

34. (98) Josh Wise, Ford, 136.245 mph.

35. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 135.834 mph.

36. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 135.675 mph.

37. (32) Mike Bliss(i), Ford, Owner Points

38. (34) Brett Moffitt, Ford, Owner Points

39. (35) Cole Whitt, Ford, Owner Points

40. (23) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, Owner Points

41. (26) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, Owner Points

42. (62) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, Owner Points

43. (33) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, Owner Points

2 drivers failed to qualify.

44. (66) Tanner Berryhill #, Chevrolet, 132.533 mph.

45. (44) Travis Kvapil(i), Chevrolet, 132.086 mph.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 14 2015
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