Runner-Up Finish at the Brickyard for Harvick Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team just narrowly missed out scoring its third victory of the year and second Brickyard 400 trophy on Sunday, as the Bakersfield, Calif., driver brought...
Runner-Up Finish at the Brickyard for Harvick
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team just narrowly missed out scoring its third victory of the year and second Brickyard 400 trophy on Sunday, as the Bakersfield, Calif., driver brought his red and yellow Chevrolet home in the runner-up position yesterday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The result was Harvick's fourth top-five finish in his last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
Harvick extended his lead in the NSCS standings, now leading second-place Jeff Gordon by 184 points. Additionally, Harvick is 536 points forward of the 13th- place competitor, with just six events remaining before the 2010 Chase field is set.
During the NSCS opening practices on Friday, the Gil Martin-led team primarily focused on race trim. In the first practice, Harvick was scored 33rd fastest, as many teams unloaded in qualifying trim. In the second session on Friday, the No. 29 team started in race trim and switched over to qualifying trim in the closing moments, and Harvick turned the sixth-fastest lap among 47 competitors.
Saturday morning during qualifying, Harvick secured a top-10 starting spot for Sunday's 400-miler, turning a lap of 181.210 mph around the 2.5-mile facility. That lap placed Harvick ninth on the 43-car grid.
Saturday afternoon, NASCAR gave the teams two more one-hour sessions to fine tune their cars, and the Richard Childress Racing trio of Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer showed they would be a factor in Sunday's race by posting the three fastest laps in Saturday's first practice. Harvick was 12th-fastest in the final practice, and Martin was very confident they had a car capable of challenging for the win.
Gorgeous weather greeted the NASCAR competitors on Sunday afternoon as 140,000 fans packed the grandstands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 43 drivers took the green flag at approximately 1:20 p.m. local time, and the 13-time NSCS winner started the race from his ninth-place slot.
A competition caution to check tire wear on lap 15 slowed the action, and Harvick came to pit road in eighth. The car was a little tight, but he thought it was getting better over the course of the run, so Martin and the Shell-Pennzoil team changed all four tires and added fuel, and made no adjustments to the chassis. Several teams took just two tires, and Harvick left the pits in 14th.
It just took one green-flag lap for Harvick to get back inside the top 10. He muscled his way to fifth, consistently running lap times as fast as the leader. Routine green-flag pit stops started at lap 48, and Harvick pitted for four tires with a small air pressure adjustment and added fuel. Once the pit stops had cycled through, Harvick was scored in the sixth position.
Over the next 90 laps, Harvick raced between the fourth and eighth-place positions, until a caution on lap 137 forced the crew chiefs to make a crucial decision. There would be just inside 20 laps remaining when the race resumed, and at the time of the caution, the teams had just 18 laps on their tires. Harvick was scored in the eighth position, and he followed the rest of the leaders to pit road. Martin made the call for two tires and one can of fuel. Harvick left pit road in third.
The race restarted with 18 laps remaining, and Harvick pushed Jamie McMurray to the lead, while the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet moved to the second position. Two laps later, Harvick closed the gap and took over the race lead from McMurray, only to see the caution flag come out for an incident involving Juan Pablo Montoya.
The first car with four fresh tires was Greg Biffle, and he restarted behind Harvick and McMurray on what would be the final restart of the day. The drivers took the green flag with 11 laps to go, and Harvick's car became extremely tight. He was unable to fend off McMurray, but he held Biffle back and crossed the stripe in second, while Biffle finished third.
RCR stablemates Bowyer and Burton finished fourth and sixth, respectively, capping off a tremendous showing for the trio. Additionally, Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines placed four cars inside the top six finishers.
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will make their second annual trip to Pocono for the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, August 1.
"Well, it was a good day. We had a solid top-five car. We took a gamble there at the end to take two tires. On the first restart, it took off great. We were able to run Jamie down and pass him. On the second restart, it didn't take off well at all. It was just too tight, and he drove around the outside. But, it was still a great day. We took a chance to try to win the race, and we had a shot at it, but we came up one spot short."