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Kevin Harvick
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Statistically Speaking

AAA Texas 500 Qualification Report

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: November 2, 2019, 9:59 pm ET

Qualification has not been much of an issue for Kevin Harvick at Texas Motor Speedway in recent years—and in time trials for the AAA Texas 500 he confirmed as much. With a speed of 189.707 mph he bested the field by more than a tenth of a second and will lead the field to green on Sunday.

This is the 10th time in the last 12 races on this track that Harvick will start fifth or better; all but one of those races ended in a top-10 finish. Harvick blew an engine in spring 2014. Harvick has one previous pole at Texas. He finished fourth after leading the field to green in April, 2017. His last two fall starts came on the inside of Row 2 and were followed by victories, although last year’s was encumbered when he was found to have an illegal suspension.

Equally important, Harvick has five stage wins in since NASCAR implemented this system and strong track position will help him in his quest for more. Harvick had a good long run car in practice, but he expects to be able to keep his track position long enough to allow the setup to come in. 

Erik Jones will line up on the outside pole for Sunday’s race. This is Jones’ best qualification effort, following a fourth in November, 2017. Since then, he’s failed to crack the top 10 in time trials, but that has not made much of a difference in race trim with three consecutive fourth-place finishes.


Denny Hamlin will line up third on the grid. This is Hamlin’s fifth consecutive top-10 start at Texas. Good qualification efforts have preceded both good and bad finishes, however, with a third-place result following a second-place start in November, 2017 and a victory after starting sixth this spring. His other two results in the previous four races were incident-plagued and he finished in the 30s.

Hamlin is confident and motivated after last week’s pit road incident with Joey Logano that put both drivers under the media’s microscope. With the exception of the Martinsville winner Martin Truex Jr., no one is safe in regard to making the Championship 4.  Hamlin needs to earn stage points.

Hours after announcing he will return to Chip Ganassi Racing for two more years, Kurt Busch rewarded the owner’s confidence with a fourth-place run in qualification. Like his competitors on the front row, qualification has been good to Busch at Texas. He started on the first five rows in eight of the previous 10 races on this track. All but one of those ended in a top-10 finish, although none of them registered top-fives.

Alex Bowman rounded out the top five. This is Bowman’s best start by a wide margin at Texas. His previous best was 16th, which he recorded in November, 2016 and last spring. The 2016 effort came before his career-best finish on this track. Unfortunately, that was only 13th. It seems fairly likely that Bowman is going to lose significant place-differential points in the race.

Notable mid-cap drivers were Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in ninth and Matt DiBenedetto in 10th.

Stenhouse has a couple of top-10 starts at Texas, most recently in April, 2016 with a fifth; he finished 16th. He started ninth in November, 2013 and also finished 16th. Stenhouse has not yet cracked the top 10 at the finish in Texas.

DiBenedetto’s best previous start was 26th this spring, which is where he finished the O'Reilly 500.

The remainder of the playoff drivers will all start in a clump with Logano 11th, Kyle Busch 12th, Kyle Larson 13th, Chase Elliott 14th, Ryan Blaney 15th, and Martin Truex Jr. 17th. One of the most interesting races on Sunday will be to see how many of these drivers can get in the top-10 and stay there to earn stage points.

The only playoff driver behind Blaney at the start of the race will be Truex, who is already locked into the playoffs. Blaney is 15 points below the cutline and he needs to earn stage points, especially since nearly of his competitors are lined up ahead of him. Blaney entered this spring’s O'Reilly 500 with a six-race streak of top-10 starts, but he slipped in time trials and rolled off the grid 13th. He finished 37th with an overheating problem.

AAA Texas 500 Practice Report

Top-10 starters, last two races at this track:

 

Fall 2018, AAA Texas 500

Driver

Finish

Start

Ryan Blaney

2

1

Clint Bowyer

26

2

Kevin Harvick

1

3

Aric Almirola

8

4

Brad Keselowski

12

5

Denny Hamlin

30

6

Kurt Busch

7

7

Joey Logano

3

8

William Byron

16

9

Kyle Busch

17

10

 

Erik Jones

4

12

Kyle Larson

5

22

Chase Elliott

6

16

Martin Truex Jr.

9

13

Austin Dillon

10

26

 

Spring 2019, O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

Driver

Finish

Start

Jimmie Johnson

5

1

William Byron

6

2

Chase Elliott

13

3

Daniel Suarez

3

4

Austin Dillon

14

5

Denny Hamlin

1

6

Daniel Hemric

33

7

Joey Logano

17

8

Ty Dillon

21

9

Bubba Wallace

23

10

 

Clint Bowyer

2

25

Erik Jones

4

11

Aric Almirola

7

21

Kevin Harvick

8

23

Kurt Busch

9

30

Kyle Busch

10

16

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.