Sports

Harvick on the pole at Phoenix for the first time

Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Harvick has a record six Sprint Cup Series victories at Phoenix International Raceway, including four of the last five races, but had never won a pole position here until Friday's qualifying.

Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion, turned a lap at 140.751 mph during the third and final round of qualifying for his first pole at this flat, one- mile track in 25 starts. If Harvick wins Sunday's CampingWorld.com 500, he will become the first driver to score four victories in a row here.

"This is a pretty special place," Harvick said. "All these West Coast races are special, but this one in particular, just for the fact that we used to bring our Southwest Tour cars here and our Winston West cars. We struggled a little bit for quite some time and then it all clicked.

"I didn't actually know that we hadn't been on pole here, but to get that first pole with these guys and celebrate anything that we hadn't done or have done; every week is just a new adventure. It's pretty special to be a part of a group of guys like this."

It was Harvick's 15th career pole in Sprint Cup. He won a series-high eight poles last year, his first season as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Harvick has finished either first or second in the last six races, a streak dating back to the first weekend in November at Texas. He won last weekend's race at Las Vegas to virtually guarantee him a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Phoenix has been Harvick's best racetrack in the series. He dominated here last year, leading 224 laps in the spring race and 264 laps in the fall event, en route to a season-sweep.

Joey Logano, the Daytona 500 winner, will start on the front row for the third consecutive race. He posted a lap at 140.543 mph.

"That is three straight front-row starts, so we are proud of that," Logano said. "Only one pole (Atlanta) - that is the part we aren't proud of. We need to find some more speed there. That is a good starting spot, and this place isn't easy to pass. A lot of strategy will come into play. We will have a good pit stall, and that is a good thing. We will be able to race hard and try to win this thing."

Jamie McMurray qualified third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards.

Kurt Busch will start eighth in his first race this season. Busch had been suspended for three races -- Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas -- before NASCAR reinstated him on Wednesday.

"It was good just to get back in the seat and shake hands with all the guys," Busch said of his return to racing at Phoenix. "Having the support of Stewart- Haas has been like family. Then to see the other crew members that I know and some that I don't know who shake my hand and say, 'Welcome back,' it feels good."

Finishing ninth through 12th in the last round of qualifying were: Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., a two-time Phoenix race winner, will start 16th, while Jimmie Johnson, the six-time series champion and winner of four races here, will roll off 20th. Denny Hamlin did not advance out of the first round and ended up qualifying 25th.

Tanner Berryhill and Travis Kvapil failed to qualify.