FONTANA, Calif – Kevin Harvick is picking up each week from where he left off at the previous track the previous race weekend. It’s becoming a common trend. Harvick, wins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race one week, then he comes out of the gates the following weekend strong. By the end of the weekend, he’s back in victory lane. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Well, here we are again.
Last weekend at Phoenix, Harvick won his third consecutive Cup race in the TicketGuardian 500. On Friday, the first time the cars hit the track this weekend at the Auto Club Speedway, Harvick was once again P1.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver circled the 2-mile California track with a speed of 189.066 mph in his No. 4 Ford. His lap was well above the track record that was set by Denny Hamlin in 2016. Hamlin, went 188.511 mph that year. Harvick, is much quicker already.
His two SHR teammates were right behind him.
Clint Bowyer turned a lap of 188.211 mph in his No. 14 Ford, while Aric Almirola went 187.936 mph in his No. 10 Ford.
Bowyer, finished third last year in Fontana while Almirola hasn’t finished outside the top 15 in four starts this season. Mix in Harvick’s early speed, and it’s clear who the early team to beat so far this weekend is.
Ryan Newman was fourth in his No. 31 Chevrolet at 187.798 mph while defending Auto Club Speedway winner Kyle Larson rounded out the top five in his No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing at 187.744 mph.
Daniel Suarez’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota sustained heavy damage to the right side about midway through the session when his car appeared to get loose and slammed into the outside wall.
WATCH: Suarez hits wall
Suarez’s No. 19 team raced to ready his backup car for qualifying, which begins at 7:15 p.m. ET on FS1.