Kevin Harvick Spoils Chase Party With Homestead Pole

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick may be out of the Chase, but that doesn't mean his season is over, and it certainly doesn't mean he doesn't like playing the role of the spoiler on the Championship 4 party.

Harvick rocketed to his second pole position of the season on Friday evening, taking the top spot in qualifying for Sunday's season-finale Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the final race in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Posting a lap of 177.637 mph in the third and final round of knockout qualifying, Harvick collected his first-career Homestead pole and his career-best start at the 1.5-mile facility.

Brad Keselowski was second at 177.538mph, followed by Ryan Newman (177.387), Denny Hamlin (177.194) and rookie Chase Elliott (177.096).

Harvick, the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion, was eliminated from title contention following last weekend's race at Phoenix, but there's no giving up in Harvick or his team – they're here to finish out strong with a victory, especially if it means getting one more win for car co-owner Tony Stewart in his final Sprint Cup race.

"That's awesome," said Harvick. "I didn't know if we had a chance at the pole with as fast as the No. 24 (Chase Elliott) had been. But I knew if we could just run the same speed every round, that is half the battle because you never know how much it is going to slow down for everybody else, and it doesn't take much to make a mistake.

"Obviously there's not as much pressure coming into the weekend as there normally would be, and a lot less to do, so that's a good thing. So yeah, it would be nice to win a race and close the season out. Just a lot of reasons, Tony's last race, last race with Chevrolet. So yeah, came here to try to win, same as everybody else. No participation trophies."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] The final four Chase contenders struggled a bit in qualifying, with only two of the four making it to the final round while Johnson almost failed to make it out of the third round for the first time this season.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards both managed to make it out of the second round, but were nowhere near quick enough for the pole – qualifying ninth and tenth, respectively, but tops among the four championship contenders.

Chase driver Joey Logano just missed the cutoff to advance to the final round, and will start in 13th, one position ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who suffered through a terrible performance in the first round.

Johnson – vying for a record-setting seventh Sprint Cup title on Sunday, struggled to find any speed on Friday night and barely made it out of the opening round after qualifying 28th before making a second attempt and moving up to 22nd.

Johnson fared a little better in the second round but still fell short of advancing, marking his worst start at Homestead since he started 30th in 2008.

"What is a championship race without a little drama?" Johnson said. "Unfortunately, that first outing we just didn't get a good lap. Then I was on a great lap and the caution came out so we ended up with an additional lap on our tires. We had a nice pick up there for five or six laps on our tires, whatever it was and ended up 14th. A bit unlucky and we kind of hurt ourselves that opening run and I think to end up 14th on the age of those tires is respectable.

"Qualifying isn't my strong suit, I'm much better at racing, so let's line them up and go racing."

Three-time Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart, making his final Sprint Cup start, qualified 11th.

Qualifying Results

Pos. # Driver Make Sponsor Lap Time Behind
1 4 Kevin Harvick Chevy Jimmy John's 177.637 30.399 Leader
2 2 Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite 177.538 30.416 –0.017
3 31 Ryan Newman Chevy Caterpillar 177.387 30.442 –0.043
4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 177.194 30.475 –0.076
5 24 Chase Elliott Chevy NAPA Auto Parts 177.096 30.492 –0.093
6 78 Martin Truex Jr Toyota Bass Pro Shops 176.974 30.513 –0.114
7 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota DeWalt Flexvolt 176.505 30.594 –0.195
8 21 Ryan Blaney Ford Motorcraft 176.413 30.610 –0.211
9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Core 175.959 30.689 –0.290
10 19 Carl Edwards Toyota Arris 175.615 30.749 –0.350
11 14 Tony Stewart Chevy Always a Racer / Mobil 1 174.978 30.861 –0.462
12 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy Kroger/Clorox 174.831 30.887 –0.488
13 22 Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil 176.638 30.571 –0.172
14 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy Lowe's 176.269 30.635 –0.236
15 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy McDonald's 176.263 30.636 –0.237
16 41 Kurt Busch Chevy Haas Automation 176.246 30.639 –0.240
17 3 Austin Dillon Chevy Dow Corning 176.120 30.661 –0.262
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford Fastenal 175.965 30.688 –0.289
19 88 Alex Bowman Chevy Axalta 175.655 30.742 –0.343
20 6 Trevor Bayne Ford Advocare 175.536 30.763 –0.364
21 16 Greg Biffle Ford Roush Performance 175.018 30.854 –0.455
22 44 Brian Scott Ford Safeway 174.984 30.860 –0.461
23 13 Casey Mears Chevy GEICO 174.972 30.862 –0.463
24 42 Kyle Larson Chevy Target 173.756 31.078 –0.679
25 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 175.092 30.841 –0.442
26 59 Michael McDowell Chevy Thrivent Financial 174.972 30.862 –0.463
27 34 Chris Buescher Ford Love’s Travel Stops 174.967 30.863 –0.464
28 27 Paul Menard Chevy Richmond/Menards 174.893 30.876 –0.477
29 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy Great Clips 174.695 30.911 –0.512
30 10 Danica Patrick Chevy TaxACT 174.667 30.916 –0.517
31 49 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota NASCAR Heat Evolution 174.306 30.980 –0.581
32 38 Landon Cassill Ford Florida Lottery 174.025 31.030 –0.631
33 15 Clint Bowyer Chevy 5-Hour Energy 173.952 31.043 –0.644
34 95 Ty Dillon Chevy Advil 173.796 31.071 –0.672
35 7 Regan Smith Chevy Nikko RC / Toy State 173.706 31.087 –0.688
36 23 David Ragan Toyota Dr. Pepper 172.529 31.299 –0.900
37 55 Reed Sorenson Toyota RoyalTeak.com 170.578 31.657 –1.258
38 83 Jeffrey Earnhardt Toyota Starter 168.687 32.012 –1.613
39 32 Dylan Lupton Ford Can-Am 166.036 32.523 –2.124
40 46 Michael Annett Chevy Pilot Flying J 165.853 32.559 –2.160

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