Shell-Pennzoil Team Finishes Eleventh at Bristol, Maintains Lead in Sprint Cup Series Points BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil No. 29 team displayed a championship effort on Sunday, and just narrowly missed a top-10 ...
Shell-Pennzoil Team Finishes Eleventh at Bristol, Maintains Lead in Sprint Cup Series Points
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil No. 29 team displayed a championship effort on Sunday, and just narrowly missed a top-10 finish, scoring an 11th-place effort at Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick maintains his lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, leading Matt Kenseth by a single point.
Beautiful weather conditions greeted the NASCAR teams on Friday in Thunder Valley, and Harvick turned the 22nd-fastest lap during practice. The Bakersfield, Calif., native went on to qualify his No. 29 Chevrolet Impala in the 33rd position for Sunday's race.
During the two practice sessions on Saturday, the 2005 Food City 500 champ was 14th and 20th fastest, respectively. The Gil Martin-led team was focused on finding a good balance for their car, and felt very confident that their Shell-Pennzoil machine was solid on the long run.
The weather forecast was suspect on race day, and intermittent showers would interrupt the event on several occasions. Nearly 140,000 fans packed the grandstands, despite the weather, and Harvick immediately moved forward during the early portion of the 500-lap race.
Harvick was scored in the 24th position at Lap 100, and his car gradually lost overall grip. A caution at lap 115 allowed the team to make several changes, and great work by the Shell-Pennzoil crew put Harvick back on the track in 20th.
With a new setup and better track position, "Happy Harvick" took the restart and sliced his way to the front. He raced his red and yellow Chevy inside the top 15 at lap 184, and was scored 13th at another caution on lap 204.
Martin and Harvick agreed that no changes would be the call, and Harvick left pit lane 13th.
But over the next 200 laps, the handling on the No. 29 went away. Harvick communicated that the car was "wrecking loose", and was afraid that he had a right-rear tire going down. He slid all the way back to 24th, and was getting pressure from the leader when a timely caution allowed Martin and the team to make wholesale changes to the chassis.
All of the changes paid off immediately, and Harvick fought his way inside the top 10 with just 15 laps to go. A late restart shuffled the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil car back one position, and Harvick crossed the finish line 11th.
Jeff Burton led the way for Richard Childress Racing, scoring a 10th-place finish, while Clint Bowyer's engine expired, and he finished 40th. Harvick continues to lead the Sprint Cup Series standings, while Burton is seventh (97 points back) and Bowyer is 12th (173 points back).
Short track racing continues next weekend as NASCAR's senior circuit heads to the paper clip-shaped .526-mile oval in Martinsville, Va.
KEVIN HARVICK: "We fought track position all day today. I thought we were primed to crack the top 10 in the middle portion of the race, but the car just went really loose and we got behind on our changes. We finally got it dialed in there late, and we scrambled back and made a decent day out of it. Obviously, we need to work on qualifying better, but I am very, very proud of this Shell-Pennzoil team. They never give up, and we keep fighting together as a team."