Kevin Harvick qualified fifth for his first career start in the storied Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway this past Sunday. Harvick's qualifying effort nearly matched his first career start at Darlington in Winston Cup when he qualified third...
Kevin Harvick qualified fifth for his first career start in the storied Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway this past Sunday. Harvick's qualifying effort nearly matched his first career start at Darlington in Winston Cup when he qualified third this past March.
As the race went green, Harvick held his own in the fifth position and maintained it for the first 56 laps of the race until he pitted for four tires and fuel. Harvick returned to the track in the top 10 and ran comfortably there for the first 230 laps of the race.
Harvick radioed to the GM Goodwrench Service Plus crew that he thought he had a tire going down on lap 231 so, as a precautionary measure, crew chief Kevin Hamlin called him to the pits for four tires and fuel. It turns out that the tire was so hot that it wasn't gripping normally, nonetheless, Harvick went down two laps to the leaders. However, with new tires, Harvick was able to get one of the laps back in just 10 circuits around the difficult 1.336-mile racetrack.
The Goodwrench team decided to stay out as the leaders started their cycle of pit stops under green and that enabled Harvick to race his way back to lead lap status.
On lap 310, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel, and then just twenty laps later, he pitted again while running in eighth position. The Goodwrench team, however, was accused of speeding on pit road and was relegated to the end of the longest line of lead lap cars. Harvick was then forced to earn back all the track position that he had made up to that point.
Harvick clawed his way all the way back to 12th position by the time of a multi-car wreck that forced NASCAR to throw the red flag. On his way to the red flag, Harvick was able to stay out of the wreck and slip into the top 10. He grabbed the eighth position not long after the race went back to green and that's where he finished.
Ward Burton won the race to claim his first victory of the season. Harvick maintained the ninth position in the Winston Cup points standings with his 11th top 10 finish of the season and he is just 155 points behind fifth place Tony Stewart. He now leads the Rookie of the Year race by 56 points over second place Kurt Busch.