Kevin Harvick claimed just his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a qualifying time of 29.118 Friday night.
Harvick last won the pole at AMS in 2014 and finished 19th in that late-season event. His lone checkered flag came in his first race at the 1.54-mile track, back in 2001.
“That was the best our car has been,” Harvick said. “It says a lot about our team, our (Stewart-Haas) organization. Obviously winning the Daytona 500 last week with (teammate) Kurt (Busch) and having strong Speed Weeks in general, I feel pretty good about our race car.
“Seeing the transition to Ford has been fun and they’ve done a great job. I’m pretty excited about it.”
Harvick nipped Ryan Newman, whose seven poles at Atlanta are tied with Buddy Baker for most all-time, with a lap speed of 190.398 mph. Newman went around in 29.199 seconds (189.870 mph).
“Harvick just slipped in there and beat us,” Newman said. “I really thought that 18 would have been good enough. It was basically the third run on the tires. But I’m proud of the guys from the Caterpillar Chevrolet. The effort that went into this is big and I feel like we’ve got a good, competitive car for the weekend.
“It’s a baby step, but a lot of effort goes into that one little baby step. It’s huge. You can see the emotion on the guys’ faces in the garage.”
Kyle Busch (29.202) and Ricky Stenhouse (29.356) are on the second row. Brad Keselowski was fifth (29.367).
Dawsonville native Chase Elliott made the final round of qualifying and will start 11th. Two-time defending race champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 18th. He was 16th last year and came from the back of the field after missing qualifying in 2015 for those two wins.
Five teams — Jeffrey Earnhardt, Cody Ware, Derrike Cope, Cole Whit and Michael McDowell — didn’t make it through inspection in time to record a qualifying time.