Harvick tops Gordon for Bristol pole

Bristol, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Harvick claimed the pole for Saturday night's IRWIN Tools Night Race after edging Jeff Gordon in qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Harvick, who's in his first season as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, turned a lap at 131.362 mph during the second and final round of Friday's qualifying here. He now has a Sprint Cup Series-leading five poles this season and 11 for his career. It was also his first pole at this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval.

"It feels great," Harvick said. "Just have to thank everybody on our Jimmy John's [sponsor] team for really everything they do every week for qualifying, and race cars that they bring to the racetrack are just incredibly fast. They have helped improve my qualifying record a tremendous amount. Today was no different."

Harvick has one Sprint Cup victory at Bristol, which occurred in April 2005 when he drove for Richard Childress Racing.

The race winner at Bristol has started from the pole 22 times, which is more than any other starting position here. However, the last driver to win from the pole at this track is Carl Edwards in August 2008.

"Track position is definitely as important as it is anywhere here with the current groove and where you are running," Harvick added. "I felt good about our car during practice and just have to stay in there all night and do the best we can."

Gordon, who started on the pole and won last Sunday's race at Michigan, posted a lap at 131.290 mph, which was only 0.008 seconds behind Harvick.

"We are just so thrilled to get a front row start here at Bristol," Gordon said. "That means a lot. I know it wasn't a pole. Kevin put up a great lap. I thought I had a really good lap that first run out. I came on the radio and said, 'That is all I got.' When you go do that and the car is well balanced and you get a good lap you know that it's up to somebody else to just take a little more risk and maybe get it and Kevin did."

Edwards, who won the spring race at Bristol in March, qualified third, while Kyle Busch took the fourth spot. Joey Logano was fifth and Jimmie Johnson sixth.

Finishing seventh through 12th in the final round of knockout qualifying were: Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne.

Notable drivers and their starting positions include: Denny Hamlin (13th), Clint Bowyer (14th), Matt Kenseth (16th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20th), Danica Patrick (24th), rookie Austin Dillon (26th) and rookie Kyle Larson (40th). Kenseth won the night race at Bristol last year.

Jeff Burton, who is substituting for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet for the second race in a row, qualified 25th.

All 43 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field for this 500- lap race.

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