Harvick Narrowly Misses Top-10 Finish at Charlotte Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team just narrowly missed out on their sixth straight top-10 finish by scoring an 11th-place effort on Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 at ...
Harvick Narrowly Misses Top-10 Finish at Charlotte
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team just narrowly missed out on their sixth straight top-10 finish by scoring an 11th-place effort on Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The result was Harvick's 12th finish of 13th or better in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour's 13 events, and he remains the NSCS point leader by 29 markers. Hot and humid weather greeted NASCAR's premier tour to Charlotte, and Gil Martin and the Shell-Pennzoil team spent the majority of Thursday's lone practice session in race trim. Statistically speaking, Charlotte is Harvick's worst race track, but the team found a solid combination for the Bakersfield, Calif., driver, and they posted a time good enough for 23rd during Thursday night's qualifying session.
During Saturday's two practice sessions, it was obvious that the red and yellow Chevrolet Impala was fast. Harvick posted the 13th and ninth-quickest laps, respectively, in each practice.
Beautiful weather welcomed the estimated 140,000 fans for Sunday's running of the Coca-Cola 600. Once the green flag waved on the 43-car field, Harvick started his customary march forward from his starting position.
As Harvick raced around the 15th position during the first 100 laps of the 400 lap affair, he started to fight a tight condition in the center of the corners. A series of pit stops allowed Martin & Co. to make wedge and air pressure adjustments, and the Shell-Pennzoil machine came to life.
Harvick roared inside the top 10 at lap 179, and by lap 223, he was inside the top five.
But, adversity would strike, as Harvick reported he ran over a large piece of debris on lap 260. Instantly, the car got extremely tight, and Harvick lost several positions on the track.
A caution on lap 271 allowed the team to check the car over, and after further examination, a bent splitter brace was discovered, which had raised the left-front corner of the car. The team spent extra time trying to bend the brace back without breaking it, and they changed four tires, added fuel, and added a spring rubber in the right-rear. After the lengthy stop, Harvick entered the track in 20th.
An amazing piece of driving allowed Harvick to pass eight cars in the first five laps after the restart, and Harvick was scored in the 12th position.
Again, the team's mettle would be tested on lap 291, when Harvick reported that he felt a terrible vibration in his right-side tires. As the vibration intensified, Harvick pitted under green for new tires and lost a lap to the leaders.
The caution flag would display moments later for an incident in turn four, trapping the No. 29 machine a lap down. Martin surveyed the situation, calculated that the Shell-Pennzoil car only had eight laps on its tires, and instructed Harvick to stay out. As the lead-lap cars pitted, Harvick was awarded a wave around and was scored back on the lead lap in 26th place.
Another furious comeback through the field got Harvick back inside the top 15 in the latter stages of the race, but ran out of laps before he could crack the top 10. Harvick crossed the stripe in 11th, while RCR teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton finished seventh and 25th, respectively.
Kurt Busch won the race, and he was chased to the checkered flag by Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and David Reutimann.
Harvick remains the overall leader in the NSCS standings, and Burton remains in eighth, 241 points in arrears. Bowyer jumped up to 13th, 355 points behind Harvick, but just four points out of the 12th and final coveted Chase spot.
Next weekend, the NSCS teams will tackle the tricky triangle, Pocono Raceway, for the running of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 on Sunday, June 6.
"It was a good night for our Shell-Pennzoil team. We hit a piece of debris and from that point on, we were extremely tight. But, we fought it the best we could, had to pit a couple of times, had a loose wheel, and we still came out 11th. Our car was really good until we hit that piece of debris. We probably had a fourth, fifth, or sixth-place car. We just took what we could get tonight and that is what you have to do when things happen. The whole month of May was good, so I can't complain. I am happy that June has started."