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Harvick on sweeping form to clinch Indy pole

Kevin Harvick made sure no one was any doubt about his pace at Indianapolis, as he swept all three rounds of qualifying and set a new track record.
CLICK: Full Sprint Cup qualifying results from Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Kevin Harvick proved unstoppable in Sprint Cup qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, as he topped each of the three elimination rounds - the first time anyone's achieved that since the new format was brought in - on his way to pick up pole position with a final round effort of 47.753s (188.470mph).

That makes it Harvick's tenth career pole in 486 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, and his fourth of 2014. It's the second time that he'll have started from the front at the historic IMS.

Harvick also set a new qualifying track record for Cup cars at Indianapolis, after opening his qualifying with a first round effort of 47.647s (188.889mph) when his tyres were at their freshest. That eclipses the old track record of 187.531mph set last year by last year's race winner Ryan Newman, the driver that Harvick replaced at Stewart-Haas Racing at the start of this season and who will start from fourth place on Sunday.

"After the first lap I was probably more nervous than I have been in a while for qualifying," Harvick said afterwards. "I wasn't really expecting to have the car run that fast. From there they are all looking at you: 'Alright if you screw this up it's on you buddy!'

"It's great to have fast cars they do a great job preparing the cars and just being able to come to the race track and know the cars are going to be fast takes a huge burden off of everybody's shoulders just to get the balance right," he continued. "It's been a unique few hours of practice with the race track being green this morning. We concentrated on qualifying and felt our race stuff was in the ball park yesterday and still kind of up in the air, but we made a lot of good decisions today to get the car right.

"It's been an interesting weekend so far, but everybody has done a good job in scrambling to get the balance right," he added.

Team boss Tony Stewart - who himself qualified in sixth place for Sunday afternoon's Crown Royal Brickyard 400 just ahead of a third member of the SHR line-up Kurt Busch - was more than happy with the team's progress so far this weekend.

"We had an awesome day today the guys on the Mobil 1 team did a great job," he acknowledged. "Kevin with his team and all three of us had good runs. Danica [Patrick] had a good run too she just missed it by a little bit to get in that final round. The entire Stewart-Haas organization did a good job."

Harvick will be joined on the front row by Hendrick Motorsport's Jeff Gordon who was just 0.178s off matching Harvick's time in the last round of qualifying but who was quick to concede that was a huge gap in the NASCAR scale of things.

"We didn't have anything for Kevin today, but what an incredible Axalta Chevy SS that we have this weekend," he said. "I got a little bit tight off to Turn 4 or we would have been a little bit closer to Kevin, but I'm still really proud of this effort. Qualifying second, qualifying is so huge here."

Brad Keselowski will line up in third place alongside Newman, but he admitted that Harvick was going to be a hard act to match on race day.

"It's always scary when Kevin is fast in qualifying," he said. "Kevin, when he qualifies well, you know he's gonna probably be a dominant car in the race and they have been really fast all year, so we're gonna have to work hard to beat him and obviously Jeff has been really fast, so we've been right there. We've got to keep working on it and I think we've got a chance of pulling off a victory here this weekend, so I'm very excited for it."

Brian Vickers takes fifth place alongside Stewart, while Kurt Busch - who ran this year's Indianapolis 500 in May - starts on row four alongside another man who drove in the Indy 500, Juan Pablo Montoya. Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne start from the row behind, with Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch the final drivers to make it into the final top 12 shootout round of qualifying.

There was disappointment for the Roush Fenway Racing squad which saw all three of their drivers eliminated from qualifying in round 2. Carl Edwards will start from 18th just ahead of Greg Biffle in 19th while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start from 21st. Also eliminated in round two were Matt Kenseth (who starts from 13th alongside Danica Patrick), Kyle Larson (15th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (23rd).

Denny Hamlin was deeply disappointed to iss the Q1 cut and will line up in 27th place on the grid one row ahead of Paul Menard.

Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola will have to start from the back after hitting the wall during qualifying and being forced to the backup car for the race. He'll start just behind Bobby Labonte, who made the grid via a past champion's provisional entry. Failing to make the 43-car grid were Reed Sorenson, David Stremme and Matt Crafton.

See full Sprint Cup qualifying results from Indianapolis Motor Speedway



Related Pictures

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Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, qualified fourth fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualified 2nd fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Next to him on the front row will be pole winner Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, was the fastest qualifier Saturday, July 26, 2014 to capture the pole position for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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