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NASCAR: Harvick speeds to eighth pole this season

KANSAS CITY - Kevin Harvick believes his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet can beat every other car on the track, and on Friday it did -- for the eighth time this season.

KANSAS CITY - Kevin Harvick believes his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet can beat every other car on the track, and on Friday it did -- for the eighth time this season.

After destroying his own track record in the second round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying, Harvick sped around 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway at 197.621 mph in the final session to win the pole for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) and affirm his status as the speed car in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The pole was Harvick's third straight at Kansas, his eighth of the season and the 14th of his career. Harvick's money lap was only slightly slower than the 197.773 mph he ran in posting the top speed in the second round, a lap that blew away the previous track record of 194.658 mph he set on May 9.

Non-Chaser Brian Vickers qualified second at 196.307 mph for the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase. Aric Almirola (196.150 mph), eliminated from the Chase last week at Dover, claimed the third starting spot.

Chase drivers occupied the next five spots on the grid: Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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Though Harvick now has eight poles, he has but two victories this year, and he hasn't won a Sprint Cup race since April at Darlington.

"For whatever reason, this (track) fits everything I have going on with my driving style," Harvick said. "In the end, it's about having fast cars. Obviously, last year we had a fast car, and this year we've had a fast car as well. I have to thank everyone on the Budweiser team for staying focused, continuing to build faster race cars and doing everything we need to do -- that we can control.

"The cars are fast, we're qualifying well. The pit stops are good. The cars are reliable. Everything is going good. We just need the good luck to go with it. It's like I keep telling these guys, everything will come full circle, and hopefully it does it at the right time this year.

"With a little bit of good luck, I just feel we can beat every car on the racetrack on any given week at any style racetrack, and that's a really positive, good feeling to have."

Gordon, last week's winner at Dover, thought he got all he could out of his lap (196.050 mph) but was no match for Harvick.

"I'm happy with where we ended up," Gordon said. "I feel like that's about where we were. Kevin was in another league."

In sharp contrast to Harvick's flawless qualifying performance, six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson had more than his share of issues. Trying to improve on a lackluster first lap, Johnson spun during his second attempt in the first round and will start 32nd on Sunday.

Other Chase drivers qualified as follows: Kasey Kahne, 10th; Carl Edwards, 12th; Ryan Newman, 17th; Denny Hamlin, 25th; and Matt Kenseth, 27th.

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By Reid Spencer,  NASCAR Wire Service

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