Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Harvick wins O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 pole; four drivers miss qualifying

At first it looked as though Kevin Harvick wouldn’t be able to get on track during the first round of qualifying due to being one of the 17 drivers with issues in pre-qualifying technical inspection. However, in the last two minutes of the first round, Harvick was able to get his No. 5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet on track and make his lap, topping the charts.

Harvick backed up that time in the following two rounds of qualifying to score the pole for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Harvick scored his first Texas Motor Speedway Nationwide Series pole with a lap of 29.195 seconds. It marks Harvick’s 25th career Nationwide Series pole.

“I messed up the entry getting into three but it still drove good,” Harvick commented post-qualifying. “We had a little bit to overcome but the guys have been working hard and its nice to have all the JR Motorsports cars up front.”

Matt Kenseth qualified his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the second spot for his sixth top-10 start of 2014.

“We are a little off on balance so hope the balance is good tonight and we can hang up front there,” Kenseth said.

Points leader Regan Smith qualified third, followed by his boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Elliott Sadler. Chase Elliott was the highest qualifying rookie in sixth and puts all four JR Motorsports cars in the top six.

Brendan Gaughan was seventh, followed by Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney and Dylan Kwasniewski. Blaney was the last driver to take to the track in the first round as he got done inspection and on track with 40 seconds remaining on the clock.

Blaney and Harvick were among the 17 drivers that had problems in pre-qualifying inspection as a result of “camber, toe and rear-end housing issues” per NASCAR’s Director of Competition Robin Pemberton. Pemberton added that many of these teams had these issues during yesterday’s inspection before practice.

NASCAR implemented a new procedure for technical inspection, using the same format that they use in the Cup Series with putting the cars on a plate and measuring that way.

“New procedure for the Nationwide cars and lots to be learned by everybody,” Pemberton noted.

Fontana winner Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon each were unable to post a lap as a result of not being able to get through pre-qualifying inspection without issues before round one of qualifying was complete. As a result, they will make up the last four spots on the starting grid.

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