Homestead: Kevin Harvick race report

Team Goodwrench Finishes Fifth in Miami Harvick Lands Fourth Spot in Chase for the Cup HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 19, 2006) -- One day removed from hoisting the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series championship trophy, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench...

Team Goodwrench Finishes Fifth in Miami
Harvick Lands Fourth Spot in Chase for the Cup

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 19, 2006) -- One day removed from hoisting the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series championship trophy, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 GM Goodwrench racing team battled a tight condition on their race car for the majority of the season-finale Miami 400 on their way to a fifth-place finish, the team's third top-five result in as many weeks.

The performance secured Harvick's place among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' top drivers as he finished fourth in the 2006 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. Harvick capped off a remarkable year that included one Bud pole award, five wins, 15 top-five finishes, 20 top-10 finishes, and the completion of the #29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge.

Coming off a season sweep at Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick arrived in Miami aiming for a result that would take him closer to the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. However, during the event's first caution on Lap 7, Harvick radioed his crew that the car was "tight up and off." Crew chief Todd Barrier made the call for air-pressure adjustments, four tires and fuel, and Harvick lined up 22nd for the restart on Lap 11.

Harvick methodically stalked the field, passing drivers one after another, until he had climbed to 10th-place on Lap 44. A caution flag waved on the same lap, and Harvick took the No. 29 Goodwrench Chevrolet down pit road for air-pressure and wedge adjustments. During a subsequent lengthy green-flag run, Harvick radioed, "The car's so tight off I can't drive it, and I've got no speed down the straightaway." As a result, by Lap 97, Harvick had slipped to 17th-place.

Harvick returned to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 104. Barrier again made the call for air- pressure adjustments to the No. 29 Chevy. The GM Goodwrench crew also adjusted the track bar and replaced all four tires before Harvick left pit road. When the caution flag waved on Lap 115, Harvick radioed, "I'm just a little free getting going and still tight up and off." After quick adjustments to the car's air pressure and wedge, Harvick restarted 14th.

Thirty laps later, Harvick had climbed back into the top-10 and was battling rookie sensation Denny Hamlin for the ninth spot. "I'm just a little bit tight in the center," Harvick radioed. Another long green-flag run ensued, and Harvick was fighting poor handling on the car's front end. A caution on Lap 188 allowed the GM Goodwrench team to correct the problem with more air-pressure adjustments, four fresh tires and fuel. However, several lead-lap cars did not pit, while others opted only to change two tires. Harvick restarted in 14th-place on Lap 193 and struggled to stay in the top-15 with challenges from Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Hamlin.

"I'm sliding the back end getting into the turn, and we're still tight up and off," Harvick radioed under caution on Lap 205. Barrier brought Harvick back to pit road for more air-pressure and wedge adjustments. Harvick only took on right-side tires during the stop. He restarted 6th and slipped one position with 50 laps remaining in the 267-lap season finale.

Harvick retained 7th-place until a caution occurred on Lap 246. "I'm just a little free in, but we're pretty good off now," Harvick radioed. He returned to pit road to quickly take on four tires and fuel, restarting 12th on Lap 251. With 12 laps remaining, the event was red-flagged after Ryan Newman sent Juan Pablo Montoya into the wall. Harvick parked his car along the front stretch in 12th-place during the clean up. Harvick managed to climb back into the top-five in the final laps of the race for a fifth-place finish, his 15th top-five performance of the 2006 season.

"Great job today, guys, and all year long," radioed Harvick after the checkered flag waved. "We started off slow, but way to bounce back to finish strong. It was a great day and season for our GM Goodwrench team."

The race belonged to winner Greg Biffle, but the day -- and the 2006 season -- belonged to Jimmie Johnson, who avoided trouble to claim his first NEXTEL Cup Series title. Biffle won the Miami 400 for the third consecutive season, beating rookies Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin to the finish line. Kasey Kahne was fourth, and Harvick rounded out the top five.

-credit: rcr

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya