Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Kevin Harvick takes pole for Southern 500 at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Kevin Harvick accomplished his first goal at Darlington Raceway — winning the pole. The next one is to win the Southern 500.

Harvick held off defending Darlington champion Martin Truex Jr. on Saturday to capture the qualifying. And tonight (6, NBCSN) that gives him the lead pit area that he hopes will keep him out front in tight situations.

"That's really the biggest advantage," Harvick said. "Having that first pit stall if your car is not handling good, it allows you to make up two or three spots if you have a decent pit stop."

Harvick ran a fast lap of 177.730 in the final round, sweeping all three segments of qualifying. It was his fourth pole of the season and second at Darlington. The last time Harvick started up front for the Southern 500, he took the checkered flag.

Harvick had long said his team's switch to Ford racers this year would take some adjustment. Gradually, that's happened to the point where Harvick believes his team will strongly contend for a title when NASCAR's playoffs begin in two weeks.

"I knew there was a lot of work that had gone into everything with the switchover," Harvick said. "Mentally, I was prepared for it to go either way. It could've been a lot worse than it has been.''

Truex, the series points leader, who has won four times this season, finished with a lap of 177.077 mph.

Truex, the series points leader, who has won four times this season, finished with a lap of 177.077 mph.

"Seems like we've been second a lot this year," he said. "It's been a good number for us and hopefully it will be a good one (in the Southern 500)."

It's the seventh time this season Truex has started second. He's won two his four races this year from that spot.

Kyle Busch will start third. He swept the truck, Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events at Bristol two weeks ago. Kyle Larson is fourth and Jamie McMurray fifth.

Brad Keselowski heads up the third row in sixth, followed by Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start his final Darlington race in 22nd. Earnhardt is winless this season and would need an extraordinary late run this week and next to advance to playoffs.

"Our package just didn't have the speed for qualifying," Earnhardt said. "But I think our race stuff is going to be great."

XFINITY: Polesitter Denny Hamlin passed Joey Logano coming out of the final turn to win the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway. Logano led the most laps, 58 of 147.

INDYCAR: Alexander Rossi won the pole for today's Grand Prix at the Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Rossi had a track-record time of one minute, 22.4639 seconds to edge Scott Dixon (1:22.5168). Dixon, who eclipsed his track record of 1:22.5259 in the third round of qualifying, edged points leader Josef Newgarden (1:22.5169), whom he trails by 31 points with two races left.

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton claimed his 69th career pole position to break the F1 record held by Michael Schumacher. After a 2 1/2-hour rain delay at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Hamilton finished more than a second ahead of Max Verstappen. Asked what it meant to surpass his childhood idol, Hamilton said: "I wish I had something iconic to say. I am proof that dreams are something that can come true."

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