Curtain Closes on Fantastic Season for Harvick Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team showed tremendous tenacity and poise on Sunday, just like so many times throughout the 2010 season. Harvick rallied after a pit-road penalty to...
Curtain Closes on Fantastic Season for Harvick
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team showed tremendous tenacity and poise on Sunday, just like so many times throughout the 2010 season. Harvick rallied after a pit-road penalty to finish third at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the season finale and settled for a third-place showing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final standings. The effort was the Bakersfield, Calif., driver's 26th top-10 finish of the season.
Harvick closed out the year just two points behind Denny Hamlin for second in the final standings, and 41 points behind Jimmie Johnson, the newly-crowned five-time NSCS champion.
After qualifying 28th on Friday afternoon, Harvick started his customary march forward on Sunday in front of an estimated crowd of 67,000. The 14-time NSCS winner was 22nd in just three laps and cracked the top 20 on lap eight. The day's first caution flag waved on lap 17, and Harvick drove his red and yellow Chevrolet to pit road to remedy a tight condition. The Richard Childress Racing crew changed all four tires, added fuel, and made a significant chassis adjustment. The team's quick work netted five positions, and Harvick entered the track in 15th.
The chassis adjustment aided Harvick in his ascent up the leaderboard. The green-flag run continued as Harvick entered the top 10 on lap 67, just as routine green-flag pit stops began. Martin instructed Harvick to pit on lap 70 for tires and fuel, and once the round of stops were completed, Harvick was running eighth.
Two short green-flag runs followed, and each time the Shell-Pennzoil pit crew picked up two spots. Once the race reached the halfway mark, Harvick made his presence felt inside the top five. Knowing his car would be good out front in clean air, Harvick and Martin made no further changes to their Chevrolet, and instead they relied on the pit crew's fast pit stops to gain positions.
Their strategy worked perfectly when Harvick entered the pits on lap 186 of the 267-lap event in third. After another fantastic stop, the team left the pits as the leader, but moments later, their feeling of jubilation turned to frustration. NASCAR ruled that Harvick sped on pit road, and the penalty forced the team to restart at the tail end of the lead lap cars in 31st.
With just 76 laps remaining, Harvick drove to the front fearlessly from the back of the field. After taking the green flag on lap 191, spotter Billy O'Dea helped Harvick maneuver around traffic on the 1.5-mile speedway. A caution was displayed on lap 202 for fluid on the track and Harvick was scored 13th.
But, Harvick was not finished with his assault on the field. He cracked the top 10 on lap 210, and the top five on lap 240. A caution flag with just 20 laps remaining set up a shootout with Johnson and Harvick running inside the top-five cars.
The race's final restart began with 17 laps remaining, and Carl Edwards stretched out his lead over Johnson and Harvick. Edwards went on to score the win, and was chased to the checkered flag by Johnson, Harvick, Aric Almirola and A.J. Allmendinger.
Harvick's RCR teammates, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, finished 12th and 31st, respectively.
NASCAR's premier division travels to Las Vegas next week for the 2010 NSCS Awards Banquet. The event will be televised on SPEED Friday, December 3rd at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
CONGRATULATIONS ON AN AMAZING YEAR. "I just want to thank all the guys on this team and everybody at RCR for everything they have done. I also want to thank all the fans for all their support throughout the last couple of weeks. We came here and did exactly what we wanted to do and that was to go down swinging. I am just really proud of everybody for doing that.
"We got a penalty in the middle of the race and that set us back a little bit, but we overcame that almost immediately, really. Two runs and we were right back where we needed to be. In the end, those guys kind of out ran us on the final restart and we got beat. But, we didn't go down without trying."
YOU DIDN'T WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT TALK ABOUT THE DAY YOU HAD TODAY. "We went down swinging. That's what we came here to do, was to go as fast as we could and do everything we had to do to try to win. Those guys just out ran us on that last restart by just a little bit. Then, it would taper off and we'd come back a little bit better. But, all in all, I'm proud of all my guys. Want to say 'hey' to big Mike (Scearce) back at RCR.
"I'm proud of everybody at RCR and everything they've done from last year to this year. We did everything we wanted to do today except win the race. I'm just really thankful for all the fans and all the support that we've seen over the last several weeks. This is a great spot to start building on for consistent championship runs going forward.
"I'm just proud of everybody for going down swinging. That's what we came here to do was to fight to the last lap and we did that; and we had a car capable of running up front and we did that, too."
DOES THIS MAKE YOU STRONGER? "Whether we won or lost today, we're a better team going into next year because we know how to race up front. We've done that all year, and that's what you have to do to be in contention for championships. For us, it was a good year."
WITHOUT THE PIT ROAD SPEEDING PENALTY, DO YOU THINK YOU HAD A CAR CAPABLE OF WINNING THE RACE? "It's hard to tell. The No. 99 (Carl Edwards) was pretty good on the restarts and that was probably our weak point. We had a top-three car. But, they seemed to get by us on the restarts there, but, all in all, it was a good day."
YOUR TEAM PUT UP A GREAT EFFORT, TALK ABOUT THE RACE TODAY. "What can you say? We did what we thought we could do. We wanted to try to get up there and win the race. We raced for it early and the penalty took our shot away from winning the race, but it's so hard to tell. Would it have made a difference on the championship, who knows?"
FOR NOT WINNING, THIS IS STILL EMOTIONAL... "It really is. One of our guys (Mike Scearce) lost his mom yesterday before practice and him not even being here and being a part of it; that part is emotional. That was kind of a bummer for everybody yesterday and had everybody kind of upset. Mike is one of our road guys and he got the word his mom passed away right before Happy Hour started. It was tough."
WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY IN THIS CHASE? "I would say our biggest stumbling block was Dover. At Dover, we didn't finish like we should have. We finished 15th, which probably cost us. We still probably had the best average in the Chase. It has to be very close. Man, I don't know what else you can say other than our Chevrolet has been strong all year and I look forward to next year with Budweiser and I think we'll come out of the box swinging. They'll have to deal with us again next year. I am just extremely proud of everyone on this team and everyone at RCR."
REGARDING THE PIT ROAD PENALTY: "We thought it was a glitch. You can't have that many forty-nines and then a fifty. But, anyway that is history and we had a good year and congratulations to those guys and that is all I can say. We had a good year and Jimmie had a great year. The guy that wins the championship has a great year, but we are proud of everything our guys did. We raced hard and gave it a shot and gave it all we had. If we didn't have the penalty I think we would have had a good shot at winning the race in clear air and who knows....we just raced as hard as we could and I wish congratulations to Jimmie and Rick and that whole organization."
COMPARE RCR NOW TO A YEAR AGO "It makes us feel good about our whole organization, and with what we've got going on, I think we can come out next year and build on this success. We don't want to be overconfident like we were in 2009, but it's really been a remarkable turnaround, and it's all because of our people."