Martinsville II: Kevin Harvick race report

Solid Effort Nets Kevin Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil Team Top-10 Finish in Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team turned a top-10 qualifying position into their seventh top-10 finish of the...

Solid Effort Nets Kevin Harvick and the Shell-Pennzoil Team Top-10 Finish in Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team turned a top-10 qualifying position into their seventh top-10 finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday's 500-lap race.

After posting the 17th quickest time in Friday's afternoon practice session, Gil Martin and team made a few tweaks to the set up on the red and yellow Chevy for qualifying later in the day. Harvick was able to make the most of the adjustments and was clocked at 19.774 seconds, a lap fast enough to earn his top-10 starting position of 10th.

With heavy rains rolling through the area on Saturday morning, NASCAR was forced to cancel both NSCS practice sessions for the day. But, with their strong practice and qualifying effort on Friday, the Shell-Pennzoil race team was confident and ready for the task of Sunday afternoon's event.

When the green flag flew, the Bakersfield, Calif., native wasted little time showing the strength of the No. 29 Chevrolet Impala SS by climbing to sixth by lap 20. The first round of pit stops took place under caution on lap 47.

A slight chassis adjustment was called for to assist Harvick with the handling through the tight, flat turns. Though able to remain in the top-10 running order, Harvick was still in need of grip up off the corners, a condition that continued throughout the race, despite various adjustments in the early stages of the event.

After pitting on lap 160, with Harvick running 16th when the caution flew on lap 176, Martin called for the Shell-Pennzoil Chevy to remain on the track to gain back their earlier track position. Restarting sixth, Harvick was finally able to flex the muscles of his No. 29 machine motoring his way up to third place by lap 190.

With the strategy working well, Martin once again decided to forego pit road through the next two caution periods in favor of track position. This allowed the No. 29 Chevy to remain in the top 10 through the midway point of the Tums Fast Relief 500.

As the laps clicked off in the 263-mile event, small adjustments proved to be the way to go for the remainder of the day as Martin worked through minor chassis and air pressure changes during each of the final four stops.

The adjustments allowed the 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner to race with the front pack throughout the final laps, and to claim his 10th-place finish in the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet.

The top-10 finish helps Harvick remain 21st in points. With four races remaining in the season, the No. 29 team trails Joey Logano by 49 markers.

Virginia native Denny Hamlin captured his second victory at the narrow, paper-clip-shaped track, beating Jimmie Johnson to the checkered flag. Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five finishers.

Harvick's RCR teammates Jeff Burton, Casey Mears and Clint Bowyer finished 15th, 18th and 19th, respectively.

Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the final restrictor-plate race of the season.

KEVIN HARVICK: "Good job all around today by the Shell-Pennzoil team. This is the closest we have been in a long time to putting a total weekend together. Great job to all the guys."

-credit: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch