Kevin Harvick captured the pole for Saturday night's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway after turning a lap of 183.479 miles per hour in the third round of qualifying. Joey Logano, last week's Cup winner at Texas, joins Harvick on the front row. Aric Almirola had the fastest overall lap in the second round at 184.245 miles per hour, but will start third. Marcus Ambrose and Brad Keselowski round out the top five.
NASCAR's new playoff format gives a winning driver a near lock to make the 2014 Chase for the Championship. There are now 16 spots in NASCAR's post-season and the 2014 season has produced seven winners in seven races. There are plenty of huge names in the sport chasing their first victory of the year on Saturday night at the Southern 500. The most different winners in a season is 16 and there is an impressive list of big name drivers seeking that first 2014 win favoring an 8th different winner in NASCAR's top racing series.
Past champions at Darlington who have not won in 2014 include Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and defending Southern 500 champion Matt Kenseth. Ryan Newman was fastest in Happy Hour topping 179 miles per hour. Kevin Harvick has the top speed in the first Friday practice.
The famed Darlington stripe (cars that scrape along the wall) has already made its mark on young drivers Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse, Junior and Kyle Larson. Larson, a 2014 rookie of the year candidate, did so much damage in practice he has already brought in his backup car.