Har­vick shakes off cheat­ing scan­dal

9-time ISM Race­way win­ner to start from pole

The Arizona Republic - - Auto Racing - Jenna Fryer KELVIN KUO/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

AVON­DALE, Ariz. – The cheat­ing scan­dal that knocked Kevin Har­vick out of NASCAR’s cham­pi­onship round didn’t slow him a bit at one of his fa­vorite race tracks.

Har­vick won the pole for Sun­day’s fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing race for the cham­pi­onship fi­nale with a strong run that briefly over­shad­owed the con­tro­versy his Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing team cre­ated with an il­le­gal part.

Har­vick turned a lap at 139.340 mph Fri­day around ISM Race­way out­side Phoenix to put him­self in po­si­tion to re­qual­ify for the cham­pi­onship.

His win­ning car from last week was found to have an il­le­gal spoiler and the pun­ish­ment cost him his au­to­matic berth into the fi­nal four.

Need­ing a trou­ble-free run at ISM Race­way out­side Phoenix to get back into the fi­nale, Har­vick put his No. 4 Ford in the top start­ing spot.

“It’s more about peo­ple than it is about cars and we’ve got a lot of good peo­ple,” Har­vick said.

“You can’t drive a slow car fast and you can’t beat good peo­ple.”

Har­vick is work­ing this week­end with an in­terim crew chief and car chief be­cause his have been sus­pended for the fi­nal two races of the sea­son.

Rod­ney Childers, the reg­u­lar crew chief, watched qual­i­fy­ing on tele­vi­sion in North Carolina and tweeted a sim­ple re­ac­tion to Har­vick’s qual­i­fy­ing run. “Boom,” Childers wrote. Har­vick is a nine-time win­ner at Phoenix, most re­cently in March.

He also won at Phoenix in 2014 when a vic­tory was the only thing that would qual­ify him for the Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way fi­nale, where he cap­tured his only Cup cham­pi­onship.

As for what hap­pened with his car at Texas last week, or Childers’ ex­pla­na­tion ear­lier Fri­day in that the man­u­fac­tured spoiler was done be­cause the team saw other teams were ma­nip­u­lat­ing the part, Har­vick had noth­ing to of­fer. “I don’t build the cars. I couldn’t tell you what’s on the car. What’s good, what’s bad,” Har­vick said. “That’s their job and I drive it. I show up and do the best that I can and ob­vi­ously you’ve seen the state­ments and the things from Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing and the best thing that shows up are re­sults on the race track. I drive and try to do the best that I can and we go from there.”

Chase El­liott, a play­off con­tender, qual­i­fied sec­ond and was fol­lowed by Ricky Sten­house Jr., Ryan Blaney and Alex Bow­man, none of who are rac­ing for the three re­main­ing spots in the fi­nale at Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way. Only Joey Logano is al­ready locked into Homestead and he qual­i­fied ninth.

The rest of the play­off driv­ers are spread through­out the field. Kyle Busch qual­i­fied sixth, reign­ing se­ries cham­pion Mar­tin Truex Jr. was 13th and fol­lowed by Kurt Busch. Clint Bowyer qual­i­fied 15th and Aric Almirola was 18th, low­est of the play­off driv­ers.

NASCAR Mon­ster En­ergy Cup Se­ries driver Kevin Har­vick poses for a photo after win­ning the pole po­si­tion dur­ing Fri­day’s qual­i­fy­ing for the Can-Am 500 at ISM Race­way.

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