Harvick sets track record on Bandit Pole Day
Kevin Harvick won the pole for the Quicken Loans 400 with a track record speed of 204.557 miles per hour. He easily surpassed the former record of 203.949 mph established by Joey Logano in preparation for the Pure Michigan 400 last August at MIS.
“Obviously it was a really fast lap, a really fast couple of laps,” Harvick said. “But the car has been really good since we unloaded it off the truck and these guys put fast cars on the track every week and then we’ve been in contention for poles and wins every week. Today it just all came together from the time we unloaded. I’m just really proud of my guys and everybody at the Hendrick engine shop and on these big race tracks when you have fast cars, speed makes the driver’s job a lot easier. So, it’s been a good weekend so far.”
Harvick’s speed is the fastest pole-winning speed since April of 1987, when Bill Elliott set the all-time qualifying record of 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway.
Fans at MIS experienced the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s new qualifying procedures with the three rounds segment sponsored by Bandit Chippers, a Michigan-based manufacturer of wood processing equipment that has nearly double its workforce and sales volume over the past few years.
In the first qualifying session, all the drivers were on the track for 25 minutes with the top 24 in speed advancing to a second 10- minute segment. Those top 12 drivers then advanced to the final five-minute session for the final pole qualifying attempt.
Harvick led all three sessions, setting the record in the third session.
He was followed by Jeff Gordon at 203.776 miles per hour, Dale Earnhardt at 203.729, Aric Almirola at 203.200 and Paul Menard at 203.040.
Juan Pablo Montoya, driving for Roger Penske in one of two NASCAR appearances this season after switching back to IndyCar at the start of last season, is a proponent of the new system as are most of the Sprint Cup drivers.
“I think it’s a great thing because the tires are really consistent, so it I screw up I’ll get another shot,” he said. “The way it was before, if your car was good, it was really good. If you missed it, you were screwed. Here, this gives you a little extra chance to get it done.”
Michigan continues to be still the fastest track on the circuit with 20 drivers exceeding the 200 mile per hour mark.
The NASCAR Nationwide 250, sponsored by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Saturday with Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 slated to start a 1 p.m. Sunday.