Jul 26, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick set a new Indianapolis Motor Speedway track speed record in a stock car on Saturday, earning the pole for Sunday’s Brickyard 400.
Harvick was the only driver to exceed 188 mph, recording a freaky fast mark of 188.470 mph. He finds himself in the same spot he was in the 2003 Brickyard, earning the pole and eventually winning the race.
Harvick has now won four poles in the first 20 races this season.
“They’ve turned me into a halfway-good qualifier with fast race cars,” Harvick told ESPN with a laugh. “To have the first pit stall, your problems will be a less starting from the front.”
Four-time Brickyard winner and current Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon qualified second with a speed of 187.770 mph and will start on the outside of the front row Sunday.
“I know we weren’t as good as Kevin today,” Gordon said. “But to have that awesome of a day and to be that close … to be on that front row 20 years after the first one, I get excited, what can I say?”
Chevrolet is going for its 12th consecutive win at the 2.5-mile oval. It’s certainly in good shape with six Chevy-powered drivers in the top 10.
But Chevy will have a strong challenge from Ford, particularly those of Penske Racing, which placed three drivers in the top-9: Brad Keselowski will start third, Juan Pablo-Montoya starts eighth and Joey Logano ninth.
Only one Toyota-powered driver qualified in the top-10, Brian Vickers.
Four-time Brickyard winner Jimmie Johnson, who is being picked by many as the favorite to win Sunday, qualified 11th.
“Decent performance, of course we’d like to be better, but at least we can see the front from there,” Johnson said.
Also having a decent qualifying run was Danica Patrick, who will start 14th.
Making only his third start of the 2014 season, Bobby Labonte made the field not on speed but on a past provisional, having been a former Brickyard 400 champion back in 2000.
Also, Aric Almirola will start near the back of the field due to going to a back-up car after hitting the wall during practice.
Here’s the starting grid for the 21st annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
Row 1: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon
Row 2: Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman
Row 3: Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart
Row 5: Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne
Row 6: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch
Row 7: Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick
Row 21: Aric Almirola, Reed Sorenson
Row 22: Bobby Labonte
Did not qualify: Brett Moffitt, David Stremme, Matt Crafton
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