Phoenix: Kevin Harvick race report

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team finished 13th on Saturday night in the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was the team's sixth top-15 finish in the season's first seven races. Harvick remains fourth in the...

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team finished 13th on Saturday night in the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was the team's sixth top-15 finish in the season's first seven races. Harvick remains fourth in the overall championship point standings, 112 markers behind the leader, Jimmie Johnson.

The Gil Martin-led team brought a brand new Chevrolet to Phoenix, and its first ever laps were completed during practice on Friday. Harvick recorded the 21st and 25th fastest laps during Friday's dual practice sessions, and secured the 24th starting position for Saturday's 375-lap event.

Beautiful weather greeted the estimated 70,000 fans in the Valley of the Sun, and the 43-car field took the green flag at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time.

Harvick wasted no time in advancing from his 24th-starting slot. In just 11 laps, the Shell-Pennzoil machine was scored in the 18th position when the Bakersfield, Calif., driver radioed that he was just taking it easy and saving his brakes.

A caution flag at lap 14 gave the teams their first opportunity to make adjustments, and Harvick brought his red and yellow Chevy to pit lane for the first of seven pit stops. The team made minor adjustments, and Harvick entered the track in 18th.

As the race wore on, Harvick fought a combination of a tight condition in the center of the corner, and an extremely loose chassis on the exit of the corner. But that still did not hamper the 11-time Sprint Cup Series winner and two-time Phoenix champion from making his presence felt.

Harvick cracked the top 10 for the first time on lap 118, and he broke through the top five on lap 262.

But his tight condition across the center of the corner continued to worsen, and he was unable to protect his track position. Harvick eventually fell back and maintained a position inside the top 12 when a caution flag fell with just five laps remaining.

All of the lead lap cars came to pit lane, some opting for two tires while others took four. Martin elected to take four fresh Goodyear tires, and Harvick left the pits in 14th.

The teams took the green flag for their first attempt at a green-white-checkered flag finish, and they raced to the checkers without an incident. Harvick managed to get by one competitor to cross the finish line 13th.

Clint Bowyer led the charge for Richard Childress Racing, finishing ninth, while fellow RCR stablemate Jeff Burton finished 25th after a pit road penalty halted their solid run.

Ryan Newman won the race, and he was chased to the stripe by Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Next weekend NASCAR's premier division will travel to the Lone Star state for the running of the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

KEVIN HARVICK:

"We probably had about a fifth-place car tonight. We got behind on our adjustments there in the middle of the race and it came back to bite us. Our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet was just way too tight across the center of the corner, and it lacked forward bite on exit. I am looking forward to Texas and getting a good feel for the spoiler at a 1.5-mile track."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Richard Childress Racing