Qualifying for the Irwin Tools Night Race
Date: Aug. 21, 2015
Event: Qualifying for the Irwin Tools Night Race (Round 24 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (14.602 seconds at 131.407 mph – new track record)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway by setting the seventh-fastest lap in qualifying for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race. Harvick turned a lap of 14.726 seconds at 130.300 mph on the .533-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“The first round, it just got loose and that kind of put us behind the whole time,” said Harvick, who won at Bristol in March 2005. “Other than that, our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevy drove pretty well, really throughout every round.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 20 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, 10-minute round. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 11th with a time of 14.823 seconds at 129.447 mph.
“Just too tight there in the final round,” said Busch, who has five Sprint Cup wins at Bristol (March 2002, March 2003, August 2003, March 2004 and March 2006). “Our Haas Automation Chevrolet was really fast in race trim. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow night.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 32nd with a time of 15.045 seconds at 127.537 mph.
“On our first run, the GoDaddy Chevrolet was loose in and off the corner and tight in the center,” said Patrick, who will make her seventh Sprint Cup start at Bristol on Saturday. “The car was still too loose on our second run and another car interfered with my run, so we weren’t able to get the starting position we’d hoped for.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 40th with a time of 15.161 seconds at 126.562 mph.
“I couldn’t get in the gas in (turns) three and four. Totally sideways,” said Stewart, who won at Bristol in August 1999.
Denny Hamlin led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 14.602 seconds at 131.407 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 14.607 seconds at 131.362 mph set by Harvick on Aug. 22, 2014. It was Hamlin’s 22nd career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his third at Bristol.
Kyle Busch will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 14.618 seconds at 131.263 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson. All are listed in the order they’ll start the race.
The Irwin Tools Night Race gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by NBC Sports Network.