Kevin Harvick Scores Runner-Up Finish at Phoenix on Fumes
AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 4, 2012) - Kevin Harvick led the most laps in his No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet in today's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. But, as he was making a charge to take back the top spot with less than two laps remaining in the 312-lap/312-mile/500K race, he began to slow on the backstretch coming to the white flag, out of fuel.
However, because he and the leader had built a big lead over third place, he was able to hold on to the runner-up spot in the final finishing order. Harvick now sits third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings after two races.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, rallied back from a possible loose wheel problem about mid-race that dropped him deep in the running order to finish fourth in today's race. The strong run moved the five-time NSCS champion up 11 positions in the standings.
Jeff Gordon finished eighth in the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet to give Team Chevy three of the top-10 finishers. The four-time NSCS champion gained 13 spots in the standings.
Three-time and defending NSCS champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, was poised for a strong finish until he had an issue re-starting the car in an effort to conserve fuel that relegated him to a 22nd-place finish.
Other Team Chevy finishers were: Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet - 11th; Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet - 14th; Kurt Busch, No. 51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet - 15th; Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet - 20th; Ryan Newman, No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet - 21st; Dave Blaney, No. 36 Ollie's Bargain Outlet Chevrolet - 23rd; Brendan Gaughan, No. 33 South Point Hotel and Casino Chevrolet - 27th; Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Tarkett Chevrolet - 31st; Jeff Burton, No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet - 33rd; Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet - 34th; David Reutimann, No, 10 Accell Construction Chevrolet - 36th and Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet - 37th.
Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was the race winner. Greg Biffle (Ford) and Brad Keselowski (Dodge) completed the top-five finishers.
The Series moves to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 11, 2012.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND: YOU HAD TO SAVE A WHOLE LOT OF FUEL AND THEN GO AFTER DENNY HAMLIN (WINNER) IN THE END. WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY? I HAVE A FEELING THERE’S A BIG PICTURE IN THIS “Well, just to finish second racing for a win at a place we ran 25th or 30th or whatever we ran here last year; I was really nervous coming here about how we were going to run. I just want to thank everybody with Rheem, Jimmy Johns, Budweiser, and Chevrolet; everybody that helps keep this car on the race track; and all these guys. You cut the fuel mileage that close, you’re figuring it right. So I’m proud of all my guys. When they come to a place like this where we struggled so much, and then race for a win, is hopefully what sets the tone for the year.”
HOW TOUGH IS IT TO RACE SOMEBODY AND SAVE FUEL? “They told me were nine laps short when we came back out and the cautions got us to within five, and we were able to save a little and they figured it a little bit close on those numbers. But I’m so proud of these guys. When you figure fuel mileage like that, that’s the chances and the things you’ve got to do to race for championships. I know we didn’t win the race today but we came here and struggled here last year at this particular race. And to come here and race for a win and make a total 180 was great.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 4TH: HOW CONCERNED WERE YOU ABOUT FUEL? “We were concerned because I rarely get good fuel mileage (laughs). We were definitely concerned and once we cleared the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) we just kind of fell into a rhythm at that point and tried to make sure that we got home and made some points. Leaving Daytona in 42nd on the board wasn’t a good way to start the season. But I’m very proud of the effort. We had a very fast Kobalt Tools Chevrolet. Unfortunately we had a little hiccup on pit road and it kept us from really racing for the win, but we still fought back and got into it. So I’m very proud of the effort and very proud of our race team.”
YOU DON’T GO TO THE RACES TO GET A 4TH PLACE RUN, BUT YOU’VE GOT TO BE HAPPY WITH THAT. NICE COMEBACK: “We’ll take it. I’m not really satisfied. I really felt like we had a car to win the race with. Unfortunately things didn’t work out there. We had a little hiccup early in the race, but we still rebounded back and got a very strong finish. So I am proud of the fight this team has and the race car we brought to the track and I passed a lot of race cars on a track that’s tough to pass and still got back to fourth.”
DID THE TRACK WIDEN-OUT AS THE DAY WENT ON? “Yeah, I have to give credit where credit is due. The track has worked so hard to put rubber down and get us multiple lanes. I think the track has done its part. We need to maybe get a little better tire; not a better tire, but just a different tire that would fire off a little bit earlier and let us move around sooner because it takes five or six laps before we can really have confidence in the set-up of the car and lean on it and move around. But I was here for the tire test and understand why we have this tire because it’s a safe tire and we don’t have any issues. But hopefully once the gives us more grip we can get a little different tire and I think it will help make a little better racing.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET – FINISHED 8TH: HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU RAN TODAY? “It was a solid day for us. I was very happy with some of the calls that we made to get track position. There at the end our car just wouldn’t take off, so we really struggled being real loose getting into the corner. Once it came to us we were pretty good. There was a middle part of the race where I thought we were one of the better cars. It just didn’t work out that way at the end. All in all top-10, a lot of guys had trouble we were solid. We needed a solid day like this after last week.”
HOW WAS THE TRACK? ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRACTICE, QUALIFYING AND THE RACE? “I like the track. It’s the tire I’m not a big fan of. I really am going to beg Goodyear to try and see if they can change this tire. I think the track has come in pretty good where they can really start investing sometime in the next step is on tire because this one is unpredictable, it’s inconsistent. It doesn’t allow us to really race the way that this race track right now is truly capable of.”
CHRIS HEROY, CREW CHIEF, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: NICE RECOVERY AND SOLID FINISH: “We were happy with it. We went to the back. Went a lap down; made some pretty aggressive changes. Juan (Pablo Montoya) did a good job of managing the car. The strategy played out and we made it on gas. 11th wasn’t what we were hoping for. For what we had to overcome, we’ll go on to the next.”
EVERYONE ON THIS TEAM IS SO UPBEAT. DOES THAT PROVIDE A POSITIVE VIBE FOR GOING FORWARD? “Yes. I do think it is great. Juan is totally engaged and on the right page. Even during the race when we had problems on pit road or things like that; our guys enjoy the challenge of recovering and atoning for what happened. The attitude and the dedication of the team is perfect right now. We look forward to better things.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET, FINISHED 20TH: ON TODAY’S RACE: "It appeared we had an easy top-10, but ran out of fuel with two to go. It was a disappointing end because our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet started strong and finished strong. But as was the case in Daytona our performance was better than the final result. We knew it was going to be touch and go with fuel, but it didn't work in our favor this time. The competition is so fierce that when you have an opportunity for a top-10 you need to grab it. We'll get those top 10s, I'm not worried about that."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 21ST: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN YOU AND CARL? DO YOU THINK IT WAS ON PURPOSE? “I’m 99 percent sure Carl Edwards didn’t do that on purpose, but I trusted him. Now he can’t trust me because there is a lot to be had and lost, we lost a lot today. I don’t know how much he lost, but that’s not the point. I don’t consider that a deliberate move by any means. We know plenty of times in this sport, what comes around goes around.”
I KNOW YOUR TEAMMATE HAD SOME ISSUES WITH EFI (ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION) TODAY. A LOT OF TEAMS HAVE LEARNED ABOUT THAT SYSTEM TODAY WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? “I’m glad that we didn’t (have issues). With him having that problem obviously we can learn from that. We will go forward. We finished 21st today it was a hard fought 21st after getting crashed. For these guys to come back with the WIX Filters Chevrolet as a back-up car that was going for four or fifth or whatever we were there I was really proud of them.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22ND : ARE WE AT A POINT WHERE A DRIVER CAN’T SAVE FUEL BY SHUTTING THE FUEL OFF? “I don’t build these things. You are asking the wrong guy.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT HAPPENED TODAY? “I mean, I just shut the car off like we did at Daytona and turned it back on and it never re-fired. That’s all I can tell you. I don’t know why it didn’t re-fire. I honestly don’t know. It’s not really my department. I just turned the switch back on and it never re-fired. I don’t know why that was; but it definitely cost us a good day.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET - SIDELINED WITH ENGINE FAILURE ON LAP 212: WHAT HAPPENED OFF TURN FOUR EARLIER IN THE RACE? “I think somebody got into the wall right in front of Paul Menard. I don’t know maybe the No. 22 car and Paul (Menard) had to check-up and I already had a run on him. I didn’t see the car in front of him hit, so I got tangled up there.
WHAT ULTIMATELY PUT YOU OUT OF THE RACE? “I don’t know the motor blew up again. I don’t know what happened there. It started missing and started smoking and just quit running, tough day.”
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 WHEATIES CHEVROLET – SIDELINED WITH ENGINE FAILURE ON LAP 291: WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE THAT PUT YOU IN THE GARAGE? “I don’t really know what happened we broke something. I felt like a valve or valve spring of something, we don’t really know just yet. It is really disappointing we had a pretty easy top-10 (finish). We didn’t run quite as well as we wanted to, but we ran well and put ourselves in position to have a good day. These things are going to happen.”
WERE THE TEAMS ABLE TO LEARN ABOUT THE NEW EFI (ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION) SYSTEM DURING THIS RACE? “We might be learning right now.”