Harvick on pole at Texas while other Cup contenders in clump
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kevin Harvick will start from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway after a qualifying lap of 189.707 mph Saturday night.
Harvick goes into Sunday's race fifth in points with two races remaining to qualify for one of the three remaining championship-contending spots in the season finale. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford won at Texas last fall.
"I think the key to the lap was obviously knowing that you had to be wide open, and kind of did a halfway qualifying run (Friday) and worked most of the day on race runs and making sure we ran enough laps to know where our car was," Harvick said. "I think the first pit stall is obviously a good stall to have here for pit road time and the things that go with that, and I think it is obviously going to be a track position game like it was last time."
Erik Jones will start on the front row alongside Harvick.
Joe Gibbs Racing has the top three drivers in points, but Jones is the Toyota team's only driver not in playoff contention.
"I was definitely surprised. I didn't think that we'd be that fast. Also didn't think we would be the best of our JGR cars," Jones said.
Denny Hamlin, who is second in points, qualified third. Martin Truex Jr., who won last week at Martinsville and is already locked into the final four, qualified 17th.
"Yeah, a good qualifying effort for us," Hamlin said. "Definitely is going to be better than we've been on the mile-and-a-halves."
CLUMP OF CONTENDERS: Outside of Harvick and Hamlin, the other five drivers still contenting for a championship-contending spot in the Nov. 17 finale at Martinsville, all qualified in a clump together in the 11th through 15th spots.
Joey Logano was 11th, followed by Gibbs driver Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney.
MONSTER RUN: Kurt Busch qualified fourth on the same day it was announced that the 41-year-old driver and his sponsor Monster Energy had agreed to a multiyear extension with Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 1 Chevrolet had a lap of 188.436 mph.
FIVE THROUGH 10: None of the fifth through 10th qualifiers are playoff contenders.
Alex Bowman was fifth, ahead of Aric Almirola, Daniel Suaurez, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt Dibenedetto.
"Just like rookie mode on a video game. You just hold it wide open and see what it will run. That is it," Keselowski said.
WHO'S OUT: Nobody. With 40 cars entered, everybody made the field.
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