KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It was easy for Kevin Harvick to remember what transpired the last time he sat on the pole.
For one thing, he won the race. For another, he doesn’t sit on them very often.
Harvick earned his first pole since September 2006 on Friday when he turned the fastest lap at Kansas Speedway. Harvick knocked Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from the top spot and Jimmie Johnson into the second row for the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick, who is fourth in points, was fastest in the early practice before turning a lap of 187.526 mph in qualifying. Stenhouse was next at 187.480, and Johnson was third at 187.162.
It’s just the sixth time in 460 races that Harvick has led the field to the green flag, and ends a drought of 254 races without a pole. It’s also the first pole for Richard Childress Racing since Clint Bowyer sat on the front in September 2007, also at New Hampshire.
It certainly helps to start from the front, though, especially this week at Kansas.
The track underwent a repave last year and, combined with the new "multi-zone" tread that Goodyear has brought this weekend, track position figures to be at a premium. Drivers are hopeful of two- and three-lane racing, but Stenhouse said that it will be difficult to pass.
Stenhouse was surprised that it’d been so long since Harvick sat on the pole. After all, the Sprint Cup rookie was still racing on dirt the last time it happened.
Harvick, Stenhouse and Johnson, who is second behind Matt Kenseth in points, were best able to negotiate a brutal crosswind going into Turn 3 that spoiled several promising runs.
The weather is expected to change again for the weekend. A front that’s coming through the area on Friday night is expected to send temperatures that reached into the 80s for qualifying into the 60s for the weekend, likely forcing everybody to retool their setups on Saturday.
That could bode well for guys who will start father back in the field.
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano rounded out the top five. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start sixth, followed by Kenseth, Paul Menard, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin.