Shell-Pennzoil Team Finishes Seventh in Lone Star State Solid pit strategy and alert driving to avoid trouble netted a seventh-place finish for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team at Texas Motor Speedway. The solid effort is the...
Shell-Pennzoil Team Finishes Seventh in Lone Star State
Solid pit strategy and alert driving to avoid trouble netted a seventh-place finish for Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team at Texas Motor Speedway.
The solid effort is the team's fifth top-10 finish in the season's first eight races, and that allowed Harvick to remain fourth in the overall championship point standings, 141 markers behind the leader, Jimmie Johnson.
For the second straight week, the Gil Martin-led team brought a brand new Chevrolet to the track. The team was looking forward to utilizing every single minute of their allotted track time, but due to inclement weather that plagued the area for the entire weekend, there would be only one practice session. Harvick and the Richard Childress Racing team worked solely on mock qualifying runs during that session. Harvick recorded the 24th fastest lap during Friday's practice session, and then qualified 19th quick on Friday afternoon with a speed of 188.871 mph.
The weather forecast for Sunday looked bleak, and persistent rain forced the 334-lap event to be postponed until Monday. A terrific crowd turned out for Monday's affair, and the competitors took the green flag under overcast skies shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time.
Like the team has done several times during the early stages of the 2010 season, Harvick wasted little time in advancing from his starting slot. Only a competition caution at lap 25 would delay his assault, and he cracked the top 15 at lap 57.
Harvick started using the high line around the race track and was one of the fastest cars in the field. He raced his way to 11th by lap 72, but he radioed to his crew that he felt a vibration. The vibration became so severe that Harvick pitted on lap 75, about 12 laps shy of the No. 29 team's pit window. Unfortunately, a caution flag three laps later trapped the red and yellow machine one lap down.
But Martin instructed Harvick to stay out, and the Shell-Pennzoil team was awarded a wave around and got back on the lead lap in the 31st position.
As the race wore on, Harvick had his hands full with an inconsistent handling Chevrolet. The splitter was bouncing on the ground through the corners, and a series of air pressure and wedge adjustments were called by Martin to no avail.
Even though Harvick was battling his own machine, he fought his way back to 17th when a caution waved with just 24 laps remaining. Several cars elected to take two tires, but Martin and Harvick agreed that four tires was the proper strategy. Fantastic work in the pits got Harvick back on the track in 16th, even though they took four tires.
On the ensuing restart, contact from Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon triggered a multi-car incident on the frontstretch. With cars sliding and wrecking everywhere, Harvick made an evasive move and missed the carnage with an assist from spotter Bill O'Dea. NASCAR assessed the situation and displayed the red flag with just 17 laps remaining.
Once the cars fired their engines and drove away, Harvick was scored 10th with just 14 cars on the lead lap. During the caution, Martin and the Shell-Pennzoil team decided it was best to come back to pit road and change all four tires. That call saved the race for the No. 29 as they had a left-rear tire going flat.
Quick work got Harvick back on the track in 10th, and he raced his way up to seventh at the checkered flag on lap 334. RCR stablemate Jeff Burton raced across the line in 12th, while Clint Bowyer got collected in the lap-316 melee and finished 36th.
Denny Hamlin won the race, and he was chased to the stripe by Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Kasey Kahne.
Next weekend NASCAR's premier division will travel to Talladega, Ala., for the running of the Aaron's 499.
"We battled all day today. Our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was hitting the ground for most of the race, and that really hurt us. It affected all of our adjustments and made the car very inconsistent. My spotter did a great job today when we avoided that huge wreck on the frontstretch. We dodged a bullet and salvaged a solid finish. Those are the things that show me that our team has matured. We need to work on our cars a little more, but we can get there. I am proud of our guys."