Kevin Harvick, driving the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, earned the pole position for Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 after heavy downpours washed out Friday’s qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway. Harvick posted the fastest lap during the opening practice at the 1.5 mile track with a speed of 188.317 mph, a little under the previous qualifying record set by Joey Logano with a speed of 189.414 mph in September 2013.
“I’m just most proud of my team for having a fast race car and coming to the track and having a plan and doing all the things that they did,” said Harvick. “To pay attention to the weather and put a lot of emphasis on trying to lay a fast lap down, just like everybody else, to get a good starting position with the way that the weather was.”
Unlike many teams, Harvick’s team chose to practice in his race setup to get a better feel for the track, before the #4 Chevrolet team moved into a qualifying setup. Harvick was the only driver to top 188 mph during the first practice session held at the track.
“We started in race trim because Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and I felt like this is one of those places,” Harvick said. “It’s a hard place to drive around because it’s so rough, and the timing and rhythm of the race track is something that, as a driver, you need to be able to get into that rhythm before you go into qualifying trim.”
The 2015 Chase drivers claimed the top four starting positions and six of the top seven at Chase opener race at Chicagoland. Logano will start on the outside of the front row, with a practice speed of 187.911 mph, and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski will take the third starting position. Martin Truex Jr. claimed the fourth starting spot; Austin Dillon was the only non-Chase driver to earn a top-five starting position.
Just like Harvick’s team, Logano and his team expected qualifying to be a wash. Unlike Harvick’s team Logano’s team went out in qualifying form during the entire 85 minute practice session on Friday.
“We looked at the forecast and knew there was a good chance of rain,” Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, said. “Any time that happens, you focus in on qualifying in practice a little bit more. We haven’t been in race trim yet. Really, I felt like it was qualifying during practice…because we really felt like that was where we were going to start at the end of practice.”
The other Chase drivers will start on the grid as follows: Ryan Newman will start sixth; Kyle Busch, seventh; Kurt Busch, ninth; Jeff Gordon, 10th; Jimmie Johnson, 11th; Matt Kenseth, 12th; Jamie McMurray, 13th; Carl Edwards, 14th; Paul Menard, 16th; and Dale Earnhardt Jr., 19th. Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin failed to produce a strong practice speed will start 26th and 29th respectively in Sunday’s 400 mile race.
The MyAFibRisk.com 400 will air on NBCSP beginning at 3 p.m. ET, Sunday.