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Kevin Harvick encouraged that Texas drought could end soon

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FORT WORTH, Texas — There was little good for Kevin Harvick the last time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced at Texas Motor Speedway.

There is little bad for Harvick this time — at least after Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions.

Harvick qualified third and wore a smile nearly as wide as pole-sitter Austin Dillon’s after a productive day. It was quite a difference from how he felt at this 1.5-mile track in April.

“We had a bad weekend in the spring,’’ Harvick said Friday. “We didn’t qualify well. We didn’t feel like we raced well. Just didn’t have a handle on the car all weekend. We unloaded fairly close today and had speed in both race trim and qualifying trim and that’s usually a good sign for us.’’

A bad day for Harvick was a 10th-place finish in the spring. It continued a drought at this track — he’s never won a Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Harvick looks at Kansas as a sign of encouragement. He had been the runner-up three of the previous five races before he won there last month.

He also looks back to last fall’s race at Texas as a sign that he can challenge for the win.

“I felt we had a car capable of winning the last fall race and the shifter broke off and I had to hold it in gear,’’ he said of his third-place finish.

What also is encouraging to Harvick about Friday’s performance is what it could mean in the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Provided he gets there. He enters Sunday’s race 16 points out of the final cutoff spot.

The tires used at Texas will be used at Homestead. These tires also were used at Chicagoland Speedway.

“We feel like this is an important race because it’s on the same tires as Homestead, it’s a very similar surface as Homestead, so there is a lot to be learned,’’ Harvick said.

“Even though we haven’t won here, I feel like this is a good racetrack to come to and next week is our best racetrack,’’ Harvick said of Phoenix International Raceway, where he’s won six of the last eight races. “Everybody is jacked up.’’

NASCAR America: NASCAR’s stars hit the track for the ‘Little 600’ (video)

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Like more than three dozen of his NASCAR Cup counterparts, Joey Logano is gearing up for the longest race of the year, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To warm up, Logano, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and other NASCAR drivers headed to the GoPro Motorplex in North Carolina for the “Little 600.”

Check out how they fared in the above video that was on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

 

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, marking the second consecutive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he has led the field to the green flag.

Harvick, a two-time Coke 600 winner, earned the top starting spot Thursday night with a lap of 193.424 mph in his Ford. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Chase Elliott starts third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones.

Points leader Kyle Larson will start 39th in the 40-car field after not making a qualifying attempt. He hit the wall in practice and then his team couldn’t get through qualifying inspection until one minute remained in the opening round of the session. The team was unable to get Larson out of the garage in time to make an attempt.

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Slugger Labbe: How do crew chiefs prepare for grueling Coca-Cola 600? (video)

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Veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe stopped by the NASCAR America studio in Charlotte on Thursday.

Labbe gave his perspective on how NASCAR Cup crew chiefs will prepare for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. While the race length will be the same as it has been for decades, one significant change will have crew chiefs developing strategy that they’ve never had to deal with in the 600, namely, four different race stages.

Labbe also gave his take on the positives and negatives of the Laser Inspection Station for both pre- and post-race inspections.

Check out the above video.

NASCAR: Remembering Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating 2016 Coca-Cola 600 win

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In one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, Martin Truex Jr. turned last year’s Coca-Cola 600 into a runaway one-man show, leading the field for 392 of 400 laps.

Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America took a look back at Truex’s record-setting win.

Check out the video above.