Harvick wins Brickyard 400 pole with new track record

Indianapolis, IN ( - Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for the Brickyard 400 after a dominating performance in Saturday's qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Harvick, in his first season as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, posted the fastest lap in all three rounds of knockout qualifying at this historic 2.5-mile racetrack. His lap at 188.470 mph during the final round earned him the top starting position for Sunday's 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race here.

The 38-year-old Harvick scored his 10th career pole in Sprint Cup, including his second at Indianapolis. He started on the pole and won the 2003 Brickyard 400. Harvick now leads the series with four poles this season.

"After the first lap, I was probably more nervous than I have been in a while for qualifying," Harvick said. "I wasn't really expecting to have the car run that fast. From there, they [the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team] are all looking at you and saying, '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 racetrack and know the cars are going to be fast takes a huge burden off of everybody's shoulders just to get the balance right."

Harvick turned a lap at 188.889 mph during the first qualifying round, which set a new track record at Indianapolis. The previous record was 187.531 mph, set by Ryan Newman in 2013. Harvick's best lap in the second round was clocked at 188.281 mph.

It's the 14th time this season that a new track record has been set in the series.

Jeff Gordon, the current points leader and four-time Brickyard 400 winner, qualified second with a lap at 187.770 mph. Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994. His most recent victory in this race occurred 10 years ago.

"We didn't have anything for Kevin today but what an incredible [car] that we have this weekend," Gordon said. "Qualifying second is so huge here. To be on that front row and 20 years after that first Brickyard 400, I get excited about that."

Brad Keselowski, who has won two of the last three Sprint Cup races, qualified third, while Newman, who is the defending winner of the Brickyard 400, placed fourth. Brian Vickers was fifth.

Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch will start sixth through 12th, respectively. Montoya, a full-time competitor in the IndyCar Series this year, is making his second Sprint Cup start this season. Johnson is also a four-time winner Brickyard 400 winner, with his most recent victory here in 2012.

"We had a solid day, but in that last [qualifying] session, you could just tell in the first corner that it just wouldn't turn in the center like I needed it to," Johnson said. "It's the first time we went three laps on qualifying tires. We didn't have much time to practice this morning to work on that kind of stuff. But I'm sure we definitely learned a lot in today's qualifying session."

Among those drivers failing to advance into the third qualifying round were: Matt Kenseth (qualified 13th), Danica Patrick (14th), rookie Kyle Larson (15th), Clint Bowyer (16th), rookie Austin Dillon (17th), Carl Edwards (18th), Greg Biffle (19th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (23rd) and Jamie McMurray (24th).

Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard, the 2011 Brickyard 400 winner, did not make it into the second round. Hamlin qualified 27th and Menard 29th.

Brett Moffitt, David Stremme and Matt Crafton failed to qualify.