Shell-Pennzoil Team Closes Strong in New Hampshire, Harvick Finishes Fifth Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team made steady gains throughout the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After starting ...
Shell-Pennzoil Team Closes Strong in New Hampshire, Harvick Finishes Fifth
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team made steady gains throughout the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After starting midpack, the team moved forward throughout the race and had a chance to win on the last restart, and Harvick crossed the stripe in fifth. The result was his seventh top-five and 12th top-10 finish in the season's first 17 events.
Harvick remains the overall leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, leading second-place Jimmie Johnson by 105 markers.
During the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series opening practice on Friday, the Bakersfield, Calif., driver was extremely fast in race trim. As the team changed over to qualifying mode inside the last 30 minutes of practice, they struggled to find the same speed, and Harvick qualified 24th for Sunday's 301-lap affair.
Saturday's dual practice sessions provided the Gil Martin-led team with the opportunity to fine tune their setup on their red and yellow machine. The team found the speed they were looking for, as Harvick posted the fourth and 16th-fastest speeds, respectively, in the two sessions.
Gorgeous weather greeted the NASCAR competitors on Sunday as 91,000 fans packed the grandstands at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The 43 drivers took the green flag at approximately 1:15 p.m. local time, and the 12-time NSCS winner started his assault up the leaderboard.
Harvick raced his way to 22nd when the first of the day's four caution flags waved on lap 36, and the Richard Childress Racing driver reported that his car was too tight across the center of the corner. Martin instructed the team to make an air pressure adjustment, change all four tires, and fill the Chevrolet with fuel. Several teams opted for just two tires, and Harvick left pit road in 25th.
The air pressure adjustment brought the car to life, and Harvick was scored in 21st on lap 46, 19th on lap 54, 16th on lap 82, and 14th on lap 90. Routine green-flag pit stops started on lap 104, and Harvick brought his machine back to pit road for another air pressure adjustment with four fresh tires and fuel.
Once the cycle of green-flag stops was complete, Harvick was scored 13th.
The long green-flag run continued, and Harvick was 12th when the teams started making pit stops again at lap 170. The team instructed Harvick to come to pit road on lap 175, again for a minor air pressure adjustment and four fresh tires.
Finally, a caution on lap 238 bunched the cars back together, and Harvick was running 10th. All of the lead-lap cars pitted, and Martin & Co. put on four tires and filled the No. 29 with fuel. Harvick entered the track in ninth.
The racing at the front of the field was frantic, and two more caution flags added to the excitement, setting up double-file restarts on laps 287 and 293. Harvick raced between third and seventh, and took the checkered flag in fifth.
Jimmie Johnson won the race, and he was followed by Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Harvick. RCR teammate Clint Bowyer finished seventh, while fellow RCR stablemate Jeff Burton led twice for 89 laps and finished 12th.
NASCAR takes its premier series south to the Sunshine State next week for the third restrictor plate race of the season at the historic "World Center of Racing."
KEVIN HARVICK: "Our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet was good. We kept freeing it up all day and we finally got it a little bit too loose on two tires. We were beating and banging up there, and I thought we were in the right spot to capitalize on that, but I just couldn't put the throttle down. But, it was a solid day. We want to be solid for the next few weeks and then we can start doing some things that you normally wouldn't do and trying things that you normally wouldn't try. We want to win a race or two before the Chase starts and, hopefully, hit our winning streak in the last 10 races, because that's when it counts."