Harvick Grabs Third, Extends Points Lead in Sonoma Race/Date: Save Mart 350 -- June 20, 2010 Venue: Infineon Raceway -- Sonoma, Calif. Starting Position: Fourth Finishing Position: Third Points Position: First (extended lead to 140...
Harvick Grabs Third, Extends Points Lead in Sonoma
Race/Date: Save Mart 350 -- June 20, 2010 Venue: Infineon Raceway -- Sonoma, Calif. Starting Position: Fourth Finishing Position: Third Points Position: First (extended lead to 140 points)
Kevin Harvick and the Richard Childress Racing No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team ran in the top five for most of the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, earned a strong third-place finish, and extended their lead in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
Harvick is now 140 points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson. Kyle Busch is third, 141 points back, Denny Hamlin is fourth, down 151 points, and Jeff Gordon is fifth, 192 points in arrears.
Harvick and the No. 29 team were quick right off the truck, posting the fifth-quickest lap in Friday's lone practice session. Later that afternoon, he qualified fourth with a run of 76.665 seconds at 93.446 mph, 0.365-of-a-second off the pole qualifying speed of Kasey Kahne. Saturday's twin practice sessions were in the same ballpark, with Harvick sixth in the first practice and fifth after Happy Hour.
More than 90,000 race fans were treated to a beautiful northern California afternoon when the field of 43 took the green flag at 12:22 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Harvick picked up one position after two laps on the 1.99-mile, 12-turn road course. He was third when the first of the day's seven caution flags slowed the action on lap 12. Harvick told crew chief Gil Martin that the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet was a bit loose but not bad.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 14, and Harvick quickly lost four positions over the next six laps. Harvick commented that he needed more forward bite when given the opportunity to bring the No. 29 Chevrolet back to pit road for service. The leaders began pitting on lap 28, and Harvick hit pit lane on lap 33. The crew added fuel and changed four tires, with the rear tires adjusted with one-half pound less of air pressure. With the many different pit stop plans in play, Harvick returned to action in the 22nd position on lap 35 but was ninth by lap 41, with three drivers ahead of him who had pitted out of sequence.
Harvick was sixth just past the halfway point of the 110-lap race when the yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 58. The No. 29 hit pit road one lap later and the Shell-Pennzoil crew made another good stop, again making an air pressure adjustment. Harvick was 11th when green-flag racing resumed on lap 61. Two more cautions over the next seven laps allowed Harvick to move up to third, but he would have to sit through a 21-minute red flag, to clean up the mess from the day's fourth on-track incident before resuming his charge toward the leaders on lap 70.
The additional air pressure adjustment didn't do the trick to help the car's handling issues, so Martin ordered his crew to make another air pressure adjustment on the next stop. That stop came on lap 80 during a green-flag run, the designated lap Martin and the team decided would be the best to set up a strong run to the checkered flag. Harvick was eighth when the fifth caution slowed the proceedings but restarted three laps later in sixth. On lap 88, the No. 26 car got off course and shoved the No. 29 out of the groove when it returned to the racing surface. Important positions were lost but Harvick knew he had a strong car and was determined to make up those spots and more.
He battled his way into the fifth position by lap 95 and picked up two more spots when the checkered flag ended the action 15 laps later.
Jimmie Johnson earned his fourth win of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, beating Robby Gordon to the checkered flag by 3.105 seconds. Harvick was third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five finishers.
Next weekend, the NSCS teams head to New Hampshire International Speedway, for the running of the June 27 LENOX Industrial Tools 301.
KEVIN HARVICK: "I felt the Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was good on speed there at the end. You always have a little something left. But, the 26 got off course there, and we got shoved out of the groove and lost three or four spots and it took us the rest of the race to make those spots up. We ran in the top five pretty much all day and just have to keep doing what we're doing."
"I felt like I could run with the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) when it was time to go. I ended up getting stuck in the back and got my car beat up a little bit, back in sixth or seventh. But it ended up being a great day for us. We did what we needed to do. Gil (Martin, crew chief) had good strategy, the guys in the pits did a great job and the car handled good all day. We're fortunate to be where we are in the points right now. We're able to race hard every lap and not have to worry about what's going on with the points."