Harvick Closes 2009 by Finishing Third at Homestead HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team capped off their 2009 season with sound results by qualifying sixth, finishing third and moving up two positions in...
Harvick Closes 2009 by Finishing Third at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team capped off their 2009 season with sound results by qualifying sixth, finishing third and moving up two positions in driver's points standings at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past weekend.
After posting the ninth-fastest time in Friday's lone practice session at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval, crew chief Gil Martin and team were optimistic about qualifying. And, with good cause as Harvick ran the sixth-fastest lap to secure a starting position outside Row Three.
For the two practice sessions on Saturday, the team was encouraged about being 14th in the first one, but even more so after being second in Happy Hour. Even better was the fact Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil team had great average lap times during long runs.
When the initial green flag waved Sunday afternoon under the Florida sun, Harvick wasted no time showing he was ready to race. In three laps, he had the yellow and red Impala SS in third place.
He ran right there until the first green-flag pit stop on lap 51 for fuel, tires, chassis and air pressure adjustments. When the green pit stop cycle ended on lap 56, Harvick was leading.
Maintaining the point position for six more laps, he was second when the first caution waved on lap 82. For that stop, a chassis and air pressure adjustment, fuel, tires and removal of a spring rubber was completed with Harvick lining up second for the restart.
By lap 86, he passed the leader and would run up front through two more caution pit stops, and two cautions with no pit stops, until lap 134. As the laps ticked down, Harvick fell in the running order with a car that was too tight in the turns. Adjustments on pit stops caused him to be loose, at first, but handling conditions improved on long runs.
It was determined a tire was losing air causing the car's handling to decrease. That caused Martin to re-think his pit strategy through two-consecutive runs. He made the right calls on pit road to get the car back to where it was earlier while leading.
The farthest the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet would fall in the running order was 10th before lining up sixth for the final caution restart on lap 221. With the car coursing the turns more to Harvick's liking, he would battle back into the top five racing Kurt Busch to the checkered flag and just nipping him at the line to earn third place.
For his fifth top-five and ninth top-10 finish of the season, and leading the second-most laps (56) of the race, Harvick and team jumped from 21st to 19th in the final 2009 Driver's Points standings.
Denny Hamlin won his fourth race of the season, RCR driver Jeff Burton was second, Harvick third, Busch fourth and Jimmie Johnson fifth. Johnson also clinched the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship for a record fourth-consecutive time.
Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears finished 11th and 19th, respectively, for Richard Childress Racing. Next race is the Daytona 500 on February 14, 2010.
"At the end, our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was loose just like everybody else's. It was fun. Everybody was kind of bouncing off the walls there and sideways and having a good time there at the end. It is a great way for the Shell-Pennzoil team to end the season on a high note. We've had the speed in the cars over the last few weeks, few months really. We just have to get that consistency back that we've always had. So, the speed is there and tonight showed it. We had a right front tire go down there in the middle of the race so we kind of got off. We got really loose on that particular run and over-adjusted the car. So we had to kind of waste two runs and then we got it back there at the end. The guys did a great job and it is always fun when you run good."