Kevin Harvick was flying Saturday, as he swept all three qualifying sessions to win the pole for the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard, NASCAR's second-biggest race of the year.
Under cloudy skies, Harvick had a fast lap of 188.470 miles per hour in the third and final qualifying round to claim his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the year, most of any driver this season, and 10th of his career in 486 starts.
"It's great to have fast cars. They do a great job preparing the cars and just being able to come to the race track and know the cars are going to be fast takes a huge burden off of everybody's shoulders just to get the balance right," Harvick said of his Stewart-Haas Racing team.
Starting up front is especially critical at Indianapolis, a place where passing is at a premium.
"You can overcome a lot of things with track position here," said Harvick, who won the 2003 Brickyard 400.
This was only the second time in 20 races this season that one driver swept all three qualifying sessions at one race. The other time was when Harvick took the pole at Michigan.
Teams will need a near-perfect day for success at Indy
Starting on the outside of Row 1 on Sunday will be four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, who ran 187.770 mph in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman qualified on Row 2, followed by Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart.
"We didn't have anything for Kevin today, but what an incredible Axalta Chevy SS that we have this weekend," said Gordon. "I'm excited about that first and foremost."
Vickers, the top qualifying Toyota driver, described his feelings as pleased but not satisfied.
"We maximized our opportunity in qualifying today and that's always a good feeling," he said. "I feel like we got the most out of our potential of what we showed up with in the car and the speed and everything."
Photos: Twenty years of NASCAR winners at the Brickyard
But the day clearly belonged to Harvick, who was pretty much untouchable.
Harvick was also fastest in Round 2, while Matt Kenseth just missed the cut for Round 3, qualifying 13th in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. That was on position ahead of Danica Patrick, who was 13th, withDale Earnhardt Jr. a disappointing 23rd.
"The car was real, real tight. Slow," said Earnhardt. "... It was real frustrating. We have to figure out how to run better than that."
In the first of three qualifying rounds, Harvick shattered the old track record with a lap of 188.889 mph in the freaky fast No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
Failing to advance out of the first round were Denny Hamlin, 2011 Brickyard winner Paul Menard, Aric Almirolaand Martin Truex Jr., among others. Almirola hit the wall during the session and will go to a backup car for the race.
Three drivers failed to qualify: Brett Moffitt, David Stremme and Matt Crafton.
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