(TNS) — Kevin Harvick's season-long dominance continued Friday during qualifying for Saturday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Harvick leads all drivers in wins (four), stage wins (six), top-five finishes (eight), top-10s (nine) and playoff points (19) — and he doesn't plan to offer the rest of the field any quarter this weekend either.
"I hope not; I have no plans to," Harvick said when asked if he was going to give anyone else a shot at the checkered flag after qualifying first.
Harvick wheeled the No. 4 Busch Light Ford around Kansas Speedway at 188.811 mph in snagging his second pole of the season and fourth in 25 career Cup Series starts on the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, Kan.
Coming off a win last Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Harvick oozed confidence as he looked forward to starting on the front row for the fifth time this season.
"This has been a really good race track for us through the years and, when you look at qualifying day, it's also been just one of those places that kind of fits what we do, so it's been an entertaining day," Harvick said. "We've had a lot of things to work through today, but I think today is one of those days when you look at the team and you're like, 'Man, those guys are really good at what they do.' "
Harvick, who has won the fall race at Kansas in 2013 and 2016, will be aiming for his first career win in the track's spring race.
He'll be joined on the front row by Ryan Blaney, who is in his first season driving a third car for Team Penske.
"I'm really proud of this team," Blaney said. "They've been working their butts off to try and get us better and better each week and try to get up there to where we can compete for wins on a regular basis. I think we're getting closer, it's just a matter of closing that gap and trying to close one out."
Points leader Kyle Busch, who won the spring race at Kansas in 2016, qualified third, while Aric Amirola will start fourth.
Almirola, who is in his first year as Harvick's teammate at Stewart-Haas, suffered a compression fracture of the T5 vertebrae during last year's spring race at Kansas. He's hoping for a better Mother's Day in 2018.
"I actually brought my wife with me this time, so if I do end up not making it home at least she's with me this year," said Almirola, who is making his second appearance at Kansas since the wreck. "But my mom was gracious enough to babysit the kids this weekend, so kind of having a little getaway weekend with my wife and that's been nice."
Hometown favorite Clint Bowyer — an Emporia, Kan., native — and the No. 14 Hass 30 Years of the VF1 Ford were among six cars that failed pre-qualifying inspection.
Bowyer posted the fifth-fastest practice time, but he wasn't allowed to participate in qualifying after his car failed the optical inspection.
"I have a pretty bad taste in my mouth right now," Bowyer said. "It's hard not to go off, because it's frustrating. ... It's just super-frustrating to be able to not get on the track."
Bowyer will start 33rd as a result, which is tied for his worst starting position in 20 career Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway.
Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Michael McDowell, Matt DiBenedetto and Timmy Hill also failed the initial pre-qualifying inspection.
The second round of qualifying was halted briefly after Kyle Larson spun from the high groove between turns three and four.
"I was pretty tight that run, and I just got tight getting into the top there and got up in the marbles and got loose," Larson said. " ... Wish I wouldn't have done that because I feel like we had a shot at the pole."
Instead, he'll officially start 22nd but is expected to cycle to the rear before the green flag for an unapproved tire change for the second consecutive week.