Kevin Harvick took the pole for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in one of the most unusual NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying sessions in recent memory.

Harvick claimed his 26th career pole and first at LVMS with a lap of 29.914 seconds averaging 180.517 mph. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott faster laps in the final session but had their times disallowed after crossing the line after the clock expired.

All three qualifying sessions featured drivers drafting in groups rather than the customary single-car runs due to the new for 2019 regulations mandating lower horsepower and higher downforce.

That set the stage for a wild final session as all 12 drivers in the session waited until the final 90 seconds to clock their hot laps.

Harvick exited pit road near the end of the group and used a tow from Kyle Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms Toyota Camry to bump Austin Dillon off the pole.

The two-time Las Vegas race winner admitted that the session came down to strategy rather than speed.

“The fastest car in qualifying trim is fourth,” said the driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang. “I told them earlier today that the fastest car will not win the pole today in the final round. It’s going to come down to where you’re at.

“It’s one of those situations where you don’t know where to be. I had never drafted in these cars and the close-up rate was so fast. We were able to run the bottom coming to the second lap there and that got us to the start/finish line just in time to make it. There was definitely a lot of luck involved there.”

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Denny Hamlin will start from second, his best starting spot at LVMS, followed by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in third. Austin Dillon fell back to fourth and his Richard Childress Racing teammate Daniel Hemric ended up fifth. David Ragan carried the flag for Front Row Motorsports in sixth and Kyle Larson will start seventh.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. will start from eighth followed by four-time Las Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson in ninth and Joey Logano will complete the top ten.

A pair of former series champions and LVMS winners did not advance out of Q2 with three-time race winner Brad Keselowski qualifying 19th and 2017 race winner Martin Truex, Jr. ended in 23rd.

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