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Harvick tops 204mph for Michigan pole

Kevin Harvick set the fastest qualifying time in Sprint Cup in 27 years to claim pole position for Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.
Kevin Harvick will start from pole position for Sunday afternoon's Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway after posting a qualifying time of 35.198s on the two-mile speedway.

That translates to a speed of 204.557mph, making it the fastest lap seen in a Cup qualifying session since Bill Elliott set the all-time qualifying record of 212.809mph at Talladega Superspeedway in the pre-restrictor plate era. It gives Harvick his ninth pole in 481 Cup starts and his third of 2014 - a season-best for Harvick.

Given that Harvick topped all three rounds of the elimination qualifying format on Friday afternoon, it's something of a surprise that Harvick has never started from pole position at Michigan before in 27 appearances in Cup events.

"I think that is just a credit on [the] Stewart-Haas race team for putting fast race cars on the track," said Harvick. "When you put it together with the Hendrick Motorsports engine package it creates a lot of speed and it makes coming to these place a lot of fun.

"You just have to relax and really pay attention to not overdrive it because it's so easy to miss your line on the entry to the corner," he continued. "Really excited to start on the pole and get that first pit box and hopefully we can put the whole day together on Sunday."

Harvick said the decision to go early in the final round of qualifying had proved decisive in clinching pole: "We just kind of wanted to go right at the beginning of that session," he said. " The second session I got too close to the #88 [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] coming to the green and I felt like it hurt my lap. We just tried to get a clean lap that time. The car actually ran the fastest that it had. I think clean air for us was probably a better decision."

Despite the #4's pace, only one other SHR car - the #41 of Kurt Busch - made it through to the final round. While Busch will start Sunday's race from eighth place, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick both missed the out at the end of first qualifying and will have to make their way forward from 26th and 27th positions respectively.

Instead, Harvick will share the front row with fellow Chevrolet man Jeff Gordon who was 0.135s off the pole time. Gordon's Hendrick team mate Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start just behind in third place alongside Richard Petty Motorsport's Aric Almirola, while Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard will start alongside Penske's Brad Keselowski on row three.

Outside the top 12, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch just failed to make the final round of qualifying which means they will start alongside each other in 13th and 14th place. The two have been at odds ever since Kahne crashed out at last week's race at Pocono following contact with Busch, making their pairing on row seven especially ironic.

"He sent me an email, then a text to ask if I got it," Kahne said. "I told him I did, and that is how it went ... But as far as us talking, we haven't. He did write me an email, but I don't really care anymore. I don't care to talk to him or anything.

"I talked through every situation and scenario last year with him when we had them, and to this day, I've still raced him the exact same way," Kahne added. "For him to do that, I knew it was coming as soon as he floored it in the corner. I was like 'He can't. He can't. He's going to run me right in the wall'. I think he was having a bad day, and just loses it."

Kyle Larson did make the top 12 but didn't set a time in the final round. Earlier in the day the 21-year-old from California had revealed that he and girlfriend Katelyn Sweet are expecting a child at Christmas.

By coincidence, the man Larson replaced in the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing car - Juan Pablo Montoya - was back in a Sprint Cup car for the first time this weekend since he exited NASCAR at the end of the 2013 season in favour of a new berth in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Team Penske.

Penske have now opted to also field Montoya in the #12 Cup car alongside their regular drivers Keselowski and Joey Logano for two races in 2014, at Michigan this weekend and also the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. Montoya said that he was pleased to be back as he qualified in 28th place.

"For me it's more of an opportunity to maybe win a race or two [in NASCAR]," said Montoya, who never won on an oval in 253 Cup starts. "This is probably one of the best tracks for the Fords. They always excel here and have a car that can win, and the way Team Penske is running right now, if it clicks from the beginning, and we hope it does, we might have a shot at winning this.

"I think this track, with my background in open wheel, coming here is gonna play into my hands a little bit because it's a really fast track," explained Montoya. "It's a track you don't brake, it's a track where you're really controlling the throttle and you do that a lot in IndyCar.

"Last year I think I qualified 10th and sixth last year in the Ganassi car, so coming here is really exciting. Roger gave me the opportunity to come here and we want to make SKF and the Ford group proud of what we can do."

See full qualifying and Friday practice results



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Kevin Harvick in action. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, April 11, 2014 for Saturday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 26th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Holding his son, Keelan, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, June 13, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Chevy`s Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, poses with the trophy in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with a burnout after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
With General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, holds the Michigan Heritage Trophy after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. In 2013, MIS began awarding the Michigan Heritage Trophy as a recognition and celebration of the automobile and it`s importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with his crew after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Justin Allgaier, driver of the #51 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, and Michael Annett, driver of the #7 Allstate Peterbilt/Pilot Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, races Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford takes the chequered flag to win the Nationwide Children`s 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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