Harvick takes pole when rain wipes out Dover qualifying
May. 13, 2016
DOVER, Del. (AP) — When the rain hit Dover, Kevin Harvick was prepared.
Harvick's team made the call in the middle of the week to send the No. 4 Chevrolet out for practice in its qualifying setup because rain was forecast for Friday.
With a Sprint Cup starting lineup set by practice speeds in the event of a qualifying rainout, Harvick had a needed edge. He posted the fastest lap of 165.145 mph in the only practice at Dover International Speedway and starts first for the first time this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins Harvick on the front row for Sunday's race. Joe Gibbs Racing placed Kyle Busch third and Carl Edwards fourth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top five. Stenhouse earned his third top-five start of the season.
Harvick, who had not won a pole through the first 11 races of the season, won the fall race at Dover.
"The guys have done a great job prepping the cars and hit on some things that we like," Harvick said. "It has worked well over the past few years."
The 2014 Cup champion, Harvick has one win this season and a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship secured.
But several other drivers who are regulars in the win column have a big zero next to their name — notably Kurt Busch, Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, and Martin Truex Jr.
Here are some drivers looking to conquer the Monster Mile for the first win of 2016:
LOOSE LOGANO: Logano won the Daytona 500, five other races and had 22 top-five finishes in 2015. He's winless with only three top-fives and crashed out of the last two races of this season.
His race last weekend at Kansas Speedway ended once Denny Hamlin's charge for the lead resulted in a three-wide push that ended in a multi-car wreck that took out Logano.
"There is a win on the line, and it is a big deal, it is hard to do at the Sprint Cup level and any time you have a shot it is expected out of us, not just from the fans but from the teams to go out and make the most of it and make it happen," Logano said. "When I look at Denny's move, I would do the same thing if I was him, so I don't really have any room to speak."
Logano said he felt he could have won the previous week at Talladega until yet another wreck knocked him from contention. He hasn't finished worse than 18th when completing a race.
The Team Penske driver is winless with three top-five finishes in 10 career Dover starts.
"If you look at the consistency in our team, it is still there," Logano said. "It's not like we have had races where we have been way off. And if we have started way off in a race, we have been able to recover and get a top 10 out of it."
TOUGH TRUEX: Truex, from Mayetta, New Jersey, has long considered Dover his home track. He has one of his three career wins at Dover and nine total top 10s on the mile concrete track. Truex has finished in the top 10 in three of the past four races. His win last season at Pocono Raceway propelled him into the Chase and he was one of four drivers racing for the championship in the season finale.
Truex had led 172 of the first 211 laps last weekend at Kansas until a loose wheel forced him to make an unscheduled stop on pit road. He lost a lap and finished 14. Truex said it was easier to overcome that mishap because his No. 78 Toyota is strong enough to win again.
"It's a lot easier than if you weren't fast and let one slip away and felt like your chances or the opportunity would be hard to get again or it was going to take a while to get that opportunity again," he said. "It's definitely easier when you're running good and you feel like every time you show up at the race track there's an opportunity. You can get up there and lead some laps and have a shot at winning. It definitely helps."
JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: Earnhardt's lone win at Dover came in 2001 back in his DEI days.
With seven wins over the last two seasons, Earnhardt should soon crack victory lane. He'll start second on Sunday and hoped that could give him an edge in the chase for the checkered flag.
"It's a tough place to run well at consistently every time you come here," he said. "I definitely love the banks and the size of the track is pretty good too."