Phoenix II: Kevin Harvick race report

Harvick Endures Hindrance of Long Green Flag Runs to Finish 25th in Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team fought long, green-flag runs that prevented them from gaining much-needed track position in...

Harvick Endures Hindrance of Long Green Flag Runs to Finish 25th in Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team fought long, green-flag runs that prevented them from gaining much-needed track position in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway.

After posting the 34th-quickest time in Friday's afternoon practice session, crew chief Gil Martin and team readied the car for qualifying later in the day. When that ended, Harvick and Co. earned the 31st starting position for Sunday's 312-lap race.

Saturday morning's first practice was rained out when a brief shower passed over the one-mile oval just as the cars rolled onto the track. It subsided in time for the Happy Hour practice, which was extended 15 extra minutes. When that ended, the No. 29 Chevrolet Impala SS was 22nd on the speed chart.

Sunny skies greeted fans and competitors alike on Sunday. When the green flag flew to kick off the day's racing action, Harvick quickly showed what their car was capable of by moving from 31st to 25th in just 10 laps.

This would be the first, of several, long green-flag runs during the race. The leaders got by Harvick on lap 56 as Martin kept letting him know they would make the necessary adjustments on their first pit stop.

That finally occurred on lap 62 with Harvick's Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet hitting pit road under green-flag conditions. Four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment was done before returning him to race action.

Still one lap down to the leaders, Harvick slipped to 33rd in the running order as the caution waved, for the first time, on lap 115. This time, Martin called for four tires, fuel, track bar and chassis adjustments. He also called for a spring rubber to go in the right rear, and one out of the left rear to achieve better balance.

For the lap-119 restart, another caution immediately came out to slow the racing action. Harvick remained on the racing surface to line up 28th for the lap-127 restart.

Quickly getting in position to take advantage of the Lucky Dog rule, if another caution came out, Harvick didn't get to capitalize as the leaders started passing more cars under a caution-free stretch of the race.

The caution flag waved on lap 162, with Harvick running 30th and the fifth car a lap down. A pit stop for fuel, tires, chassis and air pressure adjustments also had Martin calling for more spring rubber changes.

For the lap-168 restart, Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet were lined up 32nd. Three laps later, a multi-car accident littered the frontstretch with debris. Harvick was able to avoid any damage to his car as he smartly hit the brakes and drove through the mess.

Restarting 26th on lap 178, Harvick started to pick off positions and was running lap times equivalent to those in the top 15. However, he was also trapped in 24th place as the first car one lap down.

The caution didn't wave for the remainder of the race as Harvick pitted one more time, on lap 240, under green for tires, fuel and final adjustments. From there, all he could do was hold his position to finish the race in 25th place.

He remains 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings trailing 20th by just 27 markers.

Jimmie Johnson won his seventh race of the season with RCR driver Jeff Burton in second. Rounding out the top-five finishers were Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and pole sitter Martin Truex, Jr.

Aside from Burton's second place, RCR drivers Clint Bowyer finished sixth and Casey Mears in 27th.

This coming weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wraps up the 2009 season and crowns its champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

KEVIN HARVICK:

"We were off in the beginning of the race, then made enough adjustments to where our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet was pretty good in the middle part. Trouble was, we went down a lap early and those green-flag runs didn't give us the chance to get back on the lead lap."

-credit: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr. , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin