Harvick Closes Regular Season with Ninth-Place Effort Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team closed out the regular season with a ninth-place effort on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. It was their series leading 17th...
Harvick Closes Regular Season with Ninth-Place Effort
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team closed out the regular season with a ninth-place effort on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. It was their series leading 17th top-10 finish of the season, and after leading the points for the last 16 consecutive weeks, Harvick will be seeded third in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, based on his three wins.
After qualifying 20th on Friday afternoon, crew chief Gil Martin and the No. 29 team prepared their red and yellow machine for Saturday night's 400-lap affair. An estimated 95,000 fans came to the .75-mile short track, and the 43 drivers took the green flag at approximately 7:45 p.m. local time.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native usually takes off from his starting position and passes cars with ease, but the loose condition hampered him throughout the evening. Unable to get back to the throttle the way he wanted, Harvick hovered around his starting position of 20th for the early stages of the event.
A caution flag on lap 56 gave the teams their first opportunity to pit under yellow-flag conditions, and Harvick brought his Chevrolet Impala to pit road. Martin instructed the No. 29 bunch to change all four tires with an air pressure adjustment, make a significant wedge adjustment, and fill the car full of fuel. Harvick left the pits in 20th.
The changes helped tremendously, and Harvick passed several cars over the course of the next green-flag run. He cracked the top 15 on lap 101, and was running 11th when the race's second caution flag waved on lap 145. This time the team made another wedge adjustment and added fuel, and Harvick left the pits in 11th.
The 14-time NSCS winner broke into the top 10 just after the restart, and he passed teammate Jeff Burton for ninth on lap 230. Harvick raced between the seventh and ninth positions over the final 70 laps, despite continuing to battle the loose-handling condition, before crossing the stripe and taking the checkered flag in ninth.
Denny Hamlin scored his sixth win of the season and will be seeded first in the Chase. He was followed to the start/finish line by Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose. Johnson will be seeded second based on his five wins.
Burton went on to finish 13th and will be seeded 10th in the 12-man Chase, while fellow RCR teammate Clint Bowyer finished sixth at Richmond and clinched the final spot in the Chase class. RCR is the only NSCS organization to place each of its drivers and teams in the Chase field.
The NSCS teams will travel to Loudon, N.H. for Sunday's running of the Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
KEVIN HARVICK: "We were just too loose from the center of the corner and off all night. I just never had the forward drive I needed, and I complained a lot tonight and we came home ninth. That shows just how far we have come from last year. If a ninth-place finish is a disappointment, then we are doing okay (smiles). I'm really excited about the turnaround from last year. The cars have run great all year, and the guys have done a great job. We are as prepared as we have ever been for these final 10 races."