Harvick Rallies for Top-15 Finish at Bristol Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team struggled with their setup during most of the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but they persevered and salvaged a 14th-place finish at...
Harvick Rallies for Top-15 Finish at Bristol
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team struggled with their setup during most of the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but they persevered and salvaged a 14th-place finish at the conclusion of the event. The effort was the team's 21st top-15 finish in the season's 24 races.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native remains the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leader in the overall standings, 279 points ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon. Harvick and Gordon are the only two drivers to have clinched berths in the 12-man field Chase for the Sprint Cup with two races remaining prior to the 10-race championship.
During the two NSCS practice sessions on Friday, the No. 29 team struggled to find the right balance in their red and yellow machine. Harvick was the 39th and 29th-fastest car in the two sessions, respectively. They slightly improved in qualifying on Friday evening, posting a lap good enough for 28th on the starting grid for Saturday night's 500-lap feature.
A packed house of 155,000 fans filled the electric Bristol Motor Speedway for one of the most exciting races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. The 43 competitors took the green flag shortly after 8 p.m. local time, and Harvick made a clean start and worked the high groove around the World's Fastest Half-Mile.
He was scored 23rd when the night's first caution flag waved on lap 56. Reporting that his Chevrolet was extremely loose, the team made an air pressure adjustment and filled their Impala with fuel. Quick work by the Shell-Pennzoil team put Harvick back on the track in 20th.
The air pressure adjustment was of no help for the 14-time NSCS winner, and the Gil Martin-led team made a series of air pressure adjustments, wedge adjustments, and trackbar adjustments throughout the evening. During most of the race, Harvick was scored between the 17th and 28th positions.
But, a pit stop on lap 255 brought some life to their Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, after Martin instructed the team to take a spring rubber out of the right rear, and place one in the left rear. While the chassis was still too loose for Harvick, he was able to make up ground in the closing stages.
He maneuvered his way to the Lucky Dog slot with 95 laps to go, and needed a caution to regain a position on the lead lap. Unfortunately, the caution never came, and Harvick would finish the race one lap down in 14th, even though his lap times were as fast as the leader.
Kyle Busch won the event, and he was chased to the stripe by David Reutimann, Jamie McMurray, RCR teammate Clint Bowyer, and Kasey Kahne. Harvick's other teammate, Jeff Burton, finished 16th.
The teams will enjoy their final off weekend before traveling to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of Emory Healthcare 500 on Sunday, September 5th.
"We made tremendous gains on our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet tonight. Our car was terrible at the beginning of the race, but we didn't give up, and we found some speed there at the end. We just needed to unload a little better off the truck."