Harvick and Shell-Pennzoil Team Settle for Seventh after Dominating Run in Daytona Kevin Harvick was a dominant competitor throughout Speedweeks and a fixture at the front of the pack for the majority of the 52nd running of the Daytona 500 at...
Harvick and Shell-Pennzoil Team Settle for Seventh after Dominating Run in Daytona
Kevin Harvick was a dominant competitor throughout Speedweeks and a fixture at the front of the pack for the majority of the 52nd running of the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway in the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala. But, as they say in NASCAR, anything can happen and the fastest car doesn't always win the race.
After leading 41of 208 laps and being in contention all day, two delays for pothole repairs and two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish forced Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil crew to settle for a seventh-place finish in the marathon version of the 'Great American Race'.
The top-10 finish, along with the bonus points earned for leading the most laps, places the Bakersfield, Calif., native fifth in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
After winning a second consecutive Budweiser Shootout last weekend and missing the victory in the Duel qualifying race by just .005-of-a-second, the 34-year-old driver followed it up by posting the second-quickest time in Saturday's final practice for the Daytona 500, trailing only his Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton on the charts.
Harvick and Company took the green flag in the fifth position, in front of 175,000 fans at the 2.5-mile famed Florida oval for Sunday's 2010 season-opener, courtesy of the runner-up finish in the first of two Duel qualifying races held on Thursday.
The 2007 Daytona 500 champion battled a loose-handling condition on the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet throughout most of the event but set up camp at the front of the 43-car pack, only falling out of the top ten on two separate occasions during the scheduled 200-lap race.
Shortly past the halfway point, while Harvick was being shown in the seventh position and teammate Clint Bowyer in the lead, NASCAR called all of the cars down pit road and displayed the red flag to halt the race. A large pothole had developed in the asphalt between Turns 1 and 2. The track safety crews worked feverously to patch the hole so racing could resume. Following a one-hour and 42 minute delay for repairs, cars returned to the track.
Soon after, the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet found its way to the front of the pack, regaining the lead on lap 138. Harvick battled back-and-forth for the lead until the asphalt began to come apart again and NASCAR, for the second time, red-flagged the event. This time it was for a total of 44 minutes, with Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil team leading the race.
Once final repairs were made and NASCAR lifted the red-flag, there were just over 30 laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race.
The final pit stop was in order for the Shell-Pennzoil team. While many teams tried the two-tire route, crew chief Gil Martin made the call for four fresh tires on the bright red and yellow machine, which turned out to be key in the closing laps.
As Harvick battled his way into the top five of the running order in the final laps, the caution was displayed with just six laps remaining for a multi-car wreck. Remaining on track, the Shell-Pennzoil driver was lined up to restart the final laps in the fourth position. Within one lap, the caution flew again for another multi-car incident.
With just one scheduled lap remaining, it set up NASCAR's first attempt at the newly-created rule of three tries at a green-white-checkered finish.
Harvick was lined up fourth for the restart, next to RCR teammate Bowyer in third. When they took the green flag, the Shell-Pennzoil driver made a bold move going into Turn 1 as he pushed the second-place car past the leader then dove underneath him between Turns 1 and 2 to once again regain the lead.
Afterwards, competitors once again began to wreck behind the leaders, bringing out the caution and another overtime attempt at the green-white-checkered finish.
Now restarting as the leader, Harvick knew he would need some drafting help over the final two laps to pull off his second Daytona 500 victory. Unfortunately, that drafting help didn't come on the final restart and the hopes of a Speedweeks sweep were dashed as the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet was jostled out of line, ultimately resulting in the seventh-place finish.
Jamie McMurray broke through on the final green-white-checkered finish to lead only the two final laps and claim victory in the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Greg Biffle, RCR teammate Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann rounded out the top five. RCR teammate Jeff Burton was shuffled out of the lead pack on the final restart and finished 11th.
McMurray's triumph also marks the first Daytona 500 victory for Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines. Five of the top-11 finishers were powered by ECR engines, which included Bowyer (fourth), Harvick (seventh), Juan Pablo Montoya (10th) and Burton (11th).
Next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to the Golden State for the first of two trips on the 2010 schedule at Auto Club Speedway.
"It was wild. I don't think the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) really knew where he was going on that final restart. He went to the middle and kind of jammed it all up. But, a great job by my Shell-Pennzoil guys. I just wish we knew we had somebody behind us who knew how to draft.
"Overall, it was a great day for us. We thought we had the car to beat and just zigged when I should have zagged there at the end."
WHAT DID YOU NEED TO HAPPEN AT THE END FOR YOU TO WIN THE RACE? "I guess maybe we should have moved up. There's no way of knowing. We needed the top line to spin the tires on the take off. We kind of had the same trouble all during Speedweeks - we could get through the corner so much better than everybody around us and it would leave us a sitting duck and that kind of happened to him again. Kevin did such an awesome job to get to the front. I mean what a power move to get past (Martin) Truex to take the lead over. Man, I don't know. We won the Shootout because of the old green-white-checkered rules and we lose the Daytona 500 because of the new green-white-checkered rules. Heck, I don't know what else you can say. It's been a great Speedweeks for us. We're going on to California with this momentum and look for our ultimate goal -- get in the Chase and win the championship."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULES? "Well, tonight I hate them [smiles]. I may like them again some other time but it's good for the fans. It's good racing for them that it didn't end in a bad way and we knew when we were sitting out there leading that they were going to fix the race track. There was no way that they weren't going to. I still hate that it came down to the fact that we had to make some gambling decisions based upon the track but that's just the way that it played out and that's all we can do."