2014 NSCS Bojangles’ Southern 500 Starting Lineup

Bk--3J4IAAAcjmDIt’s no secret that Kevin Harvick has struggled since winning the second race of the 2014 Sprint Cup season at Phoenix.

But Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway could be where Harvick begins his comeback.

He certainly got off on the right foot in Friday evening’s qualifying, being one of 16 drivers to break the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval’s track record with a speed of 183.479 to earn the pole for Saturday’s race.

“I don’t know if you ever get a perfect lap at Darlington,” Harvick said. “This is a track that’s fun to drive, but every lap is different and a challenge.

“Our team has dealt with a lot of adversity over the weeks, but they’ve kept their focus and done what they had to do to keep putting good race cars on the track.”

It was only the seventh pole (and his first ever at Darlington) in 474 starts in Harvick’s Sprint Cup career.

What’s more, in a season that has seen seven different winners in as many races, Harvick also becomes the eighth different qualifier in the first eight events.

“You know when they qualify that good – and I’m not the world’s greatest qualifier – the car’s pretty good,” Harvick said with a smile.

Harvick bested Joey Logano, who earned yet another front row spot this season with a speed of 183.049 mph.

Logano may have had a little bit extra to potentially wrestle the pole away from Harvick, but his car started losing its grip and he backed off so as not to wreck.

“When in doubt, throttle out, that’s my motto,” Logano said. “This is such a fast race track. You have to have so much guts to go fast here.

“It’s a lot of fun. Qualifying is probably the most fun thing we do all weekend. It’s just so much on the edge, and you make a little mistake, you’re in the wall. If you go a little bit too careful, then you’re mad at yourself for not going fast enough. It’s such a fine line of going fast here.”

Richard Petty Motorsports continued to impress, putting both its drivers on the second row. Aric Almirola (182.946) will start alongside teammate Marcos Ambrose (182.485).

Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon will start ninth. The four-time Cup champ has eight top-five finishes in his last 10 starts at Darlington.

And what’s more, Gordon is the winningest active driver at the track also called “The Lady In Black” with seven triumphs. NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads all drivers in Darlington history with 10 wins there.

Defending race winner Matt Kenseth had a rough qualifying effort and will start in the 13th role from the 25th position, alongside six-time Sprint Cup champ and three-time Darlington winner Jimmie Johnson.

Only one driver failed to qualify: David Reutimann.

2014 NSCS Bojangles Southern 500 Starting Lineup:

  1. 4 Kevin Harvick 26.802 183.479
  2. 22 Joey Logano 26.865 183.049
  3. 43 Aric Almirola 26.88 182.946
  4. 9 Marcos Ambrose 26.948 182.485
  5. 2 Brad Keselowski 27.011 182.059
  6. 1 Jamie McMurray 27.017 182.019
  7. 31 Ryan Newman 27.022 181.985
  8. 18 Kyle Busch 27.055 181.763
  9. 24 Jeff Gordon 27.056 181.756
  10. 11 Denny Hamlin 27.087 181.548
  11. 27 Paul Menard 27.097 181.481
  12. 78 Martin Truex Jr. 27.139 181.2
  13. 41 Kurt Busch 26.993 182.181
  14. 55 Brian Vickers 27.022 181.985
  15. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 27.066 181.689
  16. 15 Clint Bowyer 27.132 181.247
  17. 42 Kyle Larson # 27.14 181.194
  18. 47 AJ Allmendinger 27.15 181.127
  19. 16 Greg Biffle 27.177 180.947
  20. 3 Austin Dillon # 27.182 180.914
  21. 99 Carl Edwards 27.184 180.901
  22. 5 Kasey Kahne 27.201 180.787
  23. 14 Tony Stewart 27.292 180.185
  24. 51 Justin Allgaier # 27.479 178.958
  25. 20 Matt Kenseth 27.011 182.059
  26. 48 Jimmie Johnson 27.033 181.911
  27. 38 David Gilliland 27.087 181.548
  28. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 27.11 181.394
  29. 98 Josh Wise 27.237 180.549
  30. 7 Michael Annett # 27.27 180.33
  31. 13 Casey Mears 27.273 180.31
  32. 34 David Ragan 27.289 180.204
  33. 10 Danica Patrick 27.296 180.158
  34. 23 Alex Bowman # 27.321 179.993
  35. 40 Landon Cassill(i) 27.363 179.717
  36. 77 Dave Blaney 27.38 179.606
  37. 33 David Stremme Chevrolet Owner Points
  38. 30 Parker Kligerman # Owner Points
  39. 83 Ryan Truex # Owner Points
  40. 36 Reed Sorenson Owner Points
  41. 32 Travis Kvapil Owner Points
  42. 26 Cole Whitt # Owner Points
  43. 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Owner Points
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