Kevin Harvick wins Cup pole for today’s Brickyard 400

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INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick, the 2003 Brickyard 400 winner, scored his third career pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday morning. Harvick went out early and ran a fast lap of 185.766 mph in the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

“Clean air will be huge,” Harvick told NBC Sports. “I thought we had a fast car (Saturday) in race practice. Clean air and strategy are important because handling will come into play at some point. You will have to hang on to them at the beginning of the run so there are a number of things having to come into play.

“Hopefully, today, we can finish where we start.”

Paul Menard’s No. 21 Ford was second at 185.724 mph followed by one of the drivers fighting to stay in the playoffs, Clint Bowyer. His No. 14 Ford turned in a lap at 185.277 mph. He was followed by Joey Logano’s Ford at 184.193 mph and four-time Brickyard winner Jimmie Johnson, who is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time in his career, at 185.181 mph.

Click here for qualifying results

Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson are vying for the final two playoff spots. Bowyer is eight points ahead of Suarez and Newman. Those two are tied with Suarez holding the tiebreaker. Johnson is 18 points behind Suarez and Newman.

Newman went out early in the session, where three cars were on the 2.5-mile oval at the same time. Newman’s No. 6 Ford clocked in with a speed at 183.273 mph and will start 22nd.

Suarez qualified 20th at 183.643 mph.

William Byron, Jr. entered qualifications as the pole winner for this year’s Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500. A Brickyard 400 pole would have made Byron the first driver in NASCAR history to win the pole at all of the “Crown Jewel” events in the Monster Energy Cup Series in the same season.

His speed of 182.043 mph in the No. 24 Chevrolet put him 29thon the starting grid.

This is the only event of the season where qualifications are held the morning of the race. The green flag of the 26thannual NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is 2:05 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC.