Harvick and the No. 29 RCR Team Continue Tremendous Start to Season Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team continued their tremendous start to the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season by finishing seventh in Sunday's running...
Harvick and the No. 29 RCR Team Continue Tremendous Start to Season
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team continued their tremendous start to the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season by finishing seventh in Sunday's running of the Autism Speaks 400 Presented by Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes at Dover International Speedway. The effort was Harvick's ninth top-10 finish in the season's first 12 races, and he remains the overall leader in the championship standings.
Beautiful weather greeted NASCAR's premier tour to Dover and the track commonly known as "The Monster Mile." Gil Martin and the Shell-Pennzoil team tried different combinations on Friday during practice before switching over to qualifying trim in the closing minutes. Harvick managed to post the 28th-fastest lap in practice, and he followed that up with a qualifying effort of 30th on Friday afternoon.
During Saturday's dual practice sessions, the red and yellow machine was very fast over the long run, but the Bakersfield, Calif., native was unable to put down a quick lap on sticker tires. Harvick turned in the 21st and 25th-fastest laps in the two practice sessions, respectively.
Sunday morning, the team was optimistic that they could continue their strong start to the season, even though, statistically speaking, Dover had not been kind to Harvick throughout his career. But the driver was reminded of their strong sixth-place showing at Darlington last week, another track that has kept Harvick from victory lane, and the point leader started his customary march forward from his 30th-place starting position.
In just a handful of laps, Harvick had already cracked the top 25, and he was running 23rd on lap 15 when he alerted Martin that his Chevrolet Impala was very tight on the exit of the corners.
With Harvick scored in the 22nd position, the day's first of five caution flags waved on lap 55, and all of the teams came to pit road for fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. An air pressure adjustment in four Goodyear Eagles and a trackbar adjustment was the call from Martin, and quick work by the No. 29 crew put Harvick back on the track in 19th, gaining three positions.
The adjustments helped Harvick, and he wasted little time racing his way inside the top 15 by lap 99.
Thirty laps later, Harvick steered his Shell-Pennzoil Chevy inside the top 10 for the first time, but he was still not satisfied.
As the track took rubber, Harvick and the rest of the leaders ran several different racing grooves in the corners of the one-mile concrete oval. Harvick found his groove near the top of the corners, and his Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines-powered machine cracked the top five on lap 174.
A caution flag waved on lap 246, and crew chiefs were put to the test as there were just 15 laps on their tires. Harvick was running third, and Martin made the call for four tires and fuel with no adjustments. Two cars stayed out, while 10 more just took right-side tires.
Harvick left pit road in 12th, but he would not stay there for long. As soon as the green flag dropped, Harvick, armed with those four fresh tires, took off and reclaimed his spot inside the top 10 in just one lap.
As the race wore on, Harvick's car turned loose, and his forward progress stalled, as he was not able to race his way higher than sixth over the final 100 laps. He took the checkered flag in seventh, while RCR teammate Jeff Burton finished second, and fellow RCR stablemate Clint Bowyer finished 17th.
Harvick remains the leader in the championship standings, while Burton is now eighth, 199 markers behind Harvick, and Bowyer is 15th, 376 points in arrears.
Kyle Busch won the 400-lap affair. He was followed to the stripe by Burton, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann.
The NSCS teams will take a week off from points-paying events by running the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night, May 22.
KEVIN HARVICK: "I think, in the big picture, this finish bodes well for us because everybody knows that Darlington, Dover and Charlotte are probably our three biggest challenges, and the month of May has always been tough for us, historically."
"So far we have three top-10 finishes in the month of May, so we just have to do that one more time in Charlotte, and then we can go back to being comfortable at the race tracks that we like going to. Everybody on the Shell-Pennzoil race team is doing a great job. Our cars are so much better than they were last year. Everyone back at the shop and on this team should be very, very proud. We just have to keep doing what we are doing."