DARLINGTON, S.C.– Kevin Harvick took the pole position for the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Saturday at Darlington Raceway, the 21st pole of his career in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition.
One of those 21 also came at the Bojangles' Southern 500, in 2014. That year Harvick went on to win the race and then … went on to win the Monster Energy Series championship.
It seems that he and the "Lady in Black" are a good couple.
"This has been a really good race track for us … I just love racing here," Harvick said after leading all three rounds of qualifying and ending with a chart-topping lap of 177.730 mph on the 1.366-mile track. Harvick's No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford will lead the 40-car field to the green flag at 6 p.m. Sunday. NBCSN will televise the race.
"[The car] feels pretty good; we're on the pole," Harvick added. "It's been a good start to the weekend for us."
Harvick said that while premium track position is "never a disadvantage," the real benefit of winning the pole at Darlington is getting the first pit box selection.
"The timing line is so close to the pit exit here at the first stall. Having that first pit stall, when you're not handling well, it enables you to make up two or three spots if you have a good pit stop and hopefully, keep track position."
Also Saturday, the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 – a NASCAR XFINITY Series race – was won by Denny Hamlin (No. 18 Sports Clips Toyota) with a last-lap/Turn 4 inside crossover move that got him past Joey Logano (No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford) by only 0.185 seconds. Kevin Harvick (No. 41 Hunt Brothers Pizza Throwback Ford) finished third, 0.586 seconds back.
The thrilling "NASCAR Overtime" finish was set up by a restart on Lap 147 – the originally scheduled distance. On the 148th and final lap, Logano dove inside of front-running Hamlin in Turn 3 and then went high. On cue, Hamlin dove low in Turn 4 and outraced Logano to the stripe.
"It worked out well," said Hamlin. "Glad we were able to clear him off of Turn 4 or else it could've really got exciting."