DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Harvick had no chance to start from the pole at Daytona International Speedway — until the rain came.

Harvick, the Sprint Cup points leader, was awarded the pole for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 when rain washed out qualifying Friday.

“Obviously, that’ll make things a little easier at the beginning of the race to get things going,” Harvick said.

Harvick was one of only 12 cars that completed qualifying laps Friday before showers, but the best he would have started the race was ninth. Sam Hornish Jr. turned the fastest lap, but he will start 30th based on owner’s points.

The field was set by points for the third time this season. Qualifying at Martinsville and Talladega also was rained out. It also was the third time in the last four years that rain wiped out qualifying at Daytona in July. It happened in 2007 and 2009.

Four-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson will start on the outside of the first row. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch round out the first three rows.

Hamlin won’t get to stay there, though. Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Reed Sorenson will have to start from the back of the field after crashing Thursday night and going to backup cars. NASCAR rules state that cars unable to turn any laps during practice or qualifying have to start at the back of the pack because of safety concerns.

David Stremme, Bobby Labonte, Travis Kvapil, Steve Park, Max Papis, J.J. Yeley, Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney were beneficiaries of the rain. They all earned automatic starting spots instead of having to qualify on speed.

Todd Bodine and Michael McDowell were sent home, unable to attempt to get into the 43-car field.

Harvick, meanwhile, will lead the field to the green flag. It’s a position he also enjoyed at Martinsville. At Daytona, he said the most important part about being up front is the fact that it comes with getting the first stall on pit road.

“If there’s a caution at the end of the race, I’d take my chances on having that pit stall just to gain a few spots if you’re not leading the race,” Harvick said. “The other thing it creates is not getting run over with getting in and out of your pit stall and not getting damage on pit road.”

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