Date: March 14, 2014
Event: Food City 500 Qualifying (Round 4 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (14.761 seconds at 129.991 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (13th, 14.953 seconds at 128.322 mph)
Kevin Harvick (27th, 15.056 seconds at 127.444 mph)
Danica Patrick (36th, 15.153 seconds at 126.628 mph)
Tony Stewart (37th, 15.163 seconds at 126.545 mph)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway by setting the 13th-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Busch turned a lap of 14.953 seconds at 128.322 mph on the .533-mile oval.
“When you’re measuring things by thousands of a second, it’s so tight,” said Busch, who has five Sprint Cup wins at Bristol (March 2002, March 2003, August 2003, March 2004 and March 2006). “We went out too early in that first run. We ran a .78 in practice in our Haas Automation Chevy and we backed that up with a .95. That’s not what you need to do.”
Qualifying consisted of two rounds. The first was 30 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 12 fastest drivers from that round advanced to the second and final round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds set in the final round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance into the final round.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 27th with a time of 15.056 seconds at 127.444 mph.
“We’ve got some work to do,” said Harvick, who won at Bristol in March 2005. “We’ve got two practice sessions tomorrow to get this Budweiser Chevrolet ready for Sunday.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 36th with a time of 15.153 seconds at 126.628 mph.
“It was a tough day,” said Patrick, who was forced to her backup car after an early crash in practice took out her primary racecar. “It’s tough to go to a backup car. The guys on the GoDaddy/Get Found team worked really hard to get the backup ready. Obviously, it’s not what we wanted, but we’ve got two practices tomorrow to get better. I really appreciate all the hard work the guys put in today.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified 37th with a time of 15.163 seconds at 126.545 mph.
“There’s no reason why we should be where we are today,” said Stewart, who won at Bristol in August 1999. “We’re better than this.”
Denny Hamlin led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a track-record lap of 14.761 seconds at 129.991 mph, breaking the previous track record of 14.813 seconds at 129.535 mph set by Kyle Busch on March 15, 2013. It was his 18th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his second at Bristol.
Brad Keselowski will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 14.764 seconds at 129.965 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-five drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. David Reutimann and Dave Blaney did not make the race.