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NASCAR at Kentucky Speedway 2016: Lineup, starting grid for Quaker State 400

Kevin Harvick starts on the pole and is seeking to lead his first-ever laps at Kentucky Speedway.

NASCAR announced the procedural rule change a week ago that it would no longer set the starting lineup off practice speeds when qualifying is canceled, instead opting to use owner points.

That change went into effect beginning this weekend at Kentucky Speedway, and coincidentally it came into play immediately when heavy rain Friday washed out Sprint Cup qualifying. The revision worked in the favor of Kevin Harvick, the Sprint Cup Series points leader who now lines up first and will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night's Quaker State 400.

Through 17 races Harvick's accumulated one victory, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes along with a series-best 8.9 average finish. The 2014 series champion is a virtual lock to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff and there is every reason to think he will enter the final race of the season for a third consecutive year with a chance to take the title.

"As far as the season, I feel like for us we have overcome a lot," Harvick said. "We have had a lot of issues and things that have cropped up that we've been able to cover up with good finishes that we have kept building on."

Starting on the pole provides Harvick the opportunity to actually lead a lap at Kentucky -- the only track where he has never done so of the 23 that host premier division events. That's seemingly a statistical oddity considering Harvick's storied 16-year career, except that the 1.5-mile oval was just added to the Cup schedule in 2011.

Harvick and the other 39 drivers in the field will have to adapt to a track that's been radically altered since the Cup Series visited last summer. The banking was increased in Turns 1 and 2 and the surface completely repaved, which increased speeds and the level of grip but appears to have narrowed the racing groove to essentially the bottom lane.

"The hard part about repaves is a lot of places you can go and be over aggressive and slide up out of the groove," Harvick said. "You are over aggressive here and you see what happens: You wind up knocking the side off of the car into the fence.

"I'm just proud that we are able to come to a race track that is still very edgy. New paves will always be, but when you have racing that is capable of racing side-by-side that is a really good sign. I'm pretty happy about that."

Quaker State 400 starting lineup

Position Driver Make
1 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet
2 Brad Keselowski Ford
3 Kurt Busch Chevrolet
4 Joey Logano Ford
5 Carl Edwards Toyota
6 Kyle Busch Toyota
7 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota
8 Chase Elliott Chevrolet
9 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet
10 Denny Hamlin Toyota
11 Matt Kenseth Toyota
12 Austin Dillon Chevrolet
13 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet
14 Ryan Newman Chevrolet
15 Ryan Blaney Ford
16 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet
17 Trevor Bayne Ford
18 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet
19 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet
20 Kyle Larson Chevrolet
21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford
22 Tony Stewart Chevrolet
23 Greg Biffle Ford
24 Paul Menard Chevrolet
25 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet
26 Aric Almirola Ford
27 Danica Patrick Chevrolet
28 Casey Mears Chevrolet
29 Landon Cassill Ford
30 Ty Dillon Chevrolet
31 David Ragan Toyota
32 Brian Scott Ford
33 Regan Smith Chevrolet
34 Chris Buescher Ford
35 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota
36 Cole Whitt Chevrolet
37 Michael Annett Chevrolet
38 Jeffrey Earnhardt Ford
39 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet
40 Josh Wise Chevrolet