NASCAR at Charlotte 2016 Qualifying Results: Race Order, Final Times, Reaction

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2016

DOVER, DE - OCTOBER 02:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, drives to the garage area during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Citizen Solider 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 2, 2016 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick will start in the pole position for Saturday's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He posted a best lap time of 27.547 seconds in Thursday's qualifying, thanks to his top speed of 196.029 mph. 

Charlotte Motor Speedway celebrated the victory:

Alex Bowman narrowly earned the second-place spot, followed by Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch.

Here is a look at the start list after qualifying:

Bank of America 500 Qualifying Results
Pos.DriverBest TimeBest Speed
1Kevin Harvick27.547196.029
2Alex Bowman27.551196.000
3Chase Elliott27.585195.759
4Kyle Busch27.660195.228
5Tony Stewart27.660195.228
6A.J. Allmendinger27.680195.087
7Martin Truex Jr.27.717194.826
8Carl Edwards27.756194.553
9Denny Hamlin27.811194.168
10Joey Logano27.828194.049
11Jimmie Johnson28.033192.630
12Kasey Kahne28.640188.547
NASCAR.com

Eight of the 12 drivers remaining in the Chase for the Cup made it through to the third round of qualifying. While non-contenders Alex Bowman, Tony Stewart and A.J. Allmendinger provided tough challenges, they couldn't match Harvick on the last lap.

Jeff Gluck of USA Today noted it has been a while since the No. 4 car was in front to start a race:

Of course, this is the 16th pole of Harvick's career, according to Nick DeGroot of Motorsport.com.

As Dustin Long of NBC Sports pointed out, the top qualifiers had something in common:

It remains to be seen if this will make a difference in the race, but this team is off to a strong start for the weekend.

The elimination style of group qualifying saw only the top 24 times advance through Round 1, although most of the big names made the cut. The only Chase driver who was in any trouble was Joey Logano, who needed an extra run in the final minutes to finally get himself into the 10th position.

There were more surprises in the second round of qualifying with four of the 12 Sprint Cup contenders being eliminated.

Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com described those who struggled in Round 2:

These drivers are now forced to start in the middle of the pack, hoping to gain ground quickly to help their case in the point standings.

Bowman was the fastest in the middle session despite not racing for much besides pride this weekend.

In the last session, though, it was Harvick who posted the best time to win qualifying. This was a disappointing finish for Bowman, who was close to his first career pole:

On the other hand, Harvick was the favorite all along after producing some great performances in practice, per Stewart-Haas Racing:

This all builds up to Saturday's main event, which represents the start to the round of 12 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Martin Truex Jr. has performed the best so far in the playoff events with two wins in his last three races, but none of that will help him going forward.

All 12 remaining drivers head into Charlotte tied with 3,000 points. A win will clinch a spot in the round of eight, but otherwise the competitors will need to stay in the top eight in terms of points in order to advance after the Alabama 500 at Talladega. 

Harvick put himself in good shape to start this round, but there is still a lot to be decided over the next three races.

         

Post-Race Reaction

After trailing Bowman through two rounds, Harvick was happy to see improve in the final round of qualifying.

"I just felt like I got to the green a little bit better," the driver said after earning the pole, per Kelly Crandall of NBC Sports. "This has just been a fun car to drive today. Hopefully, we can get it dialed in for race trim."

Harvick will try to be as prepared as possible heading into Saturday's start.

            

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