Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Sam's Club 300, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, IL Saturday, July 14, 2001 Harvick Builds Points Lead Despite Setback At Chicagoland Kevin Harvick continued his steady performance in the busy month of ...
Kevin Harvick, No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet
Sam's Club 300, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, IL
Saturday, July 14, 2001
Harvick Builds Points Lead Despite Setback At Chicagoland
Kevin Harvick continued his steady performance in the busy month of July where he will run a total of nine races in eight different states in just 29 days. He qualified fourth for the inaugural NASCAR Busch race at Chicagoland Speedway and looked forward to the race on the fast, high-banked oval which suits his driving style.
As the race got underway, Harvick noticed the car was a little tight and by the time of the first round of pit stops on lap 40, he was running in fifth spot. After returning to the action in fifth, Harvick saw the car improve drastically. He was able to grab fourth by lap 46, third by lap 50 and he took the lead for the first time on lap 61.
Harvick ran solidly in the top position and built his lead over the next 26 laps until the caution flag flew on lap 97. ACDelco crew chief Todd Berrier called Harvick to the pits under the caution flag for four tires and fuel. The pit stop went off without a hitch and jackman Curtis Bowman had the car down in under 16 seconds, however, when Harvick hit the throttle, the car wouldn't go. It turns out that the rear end gear had failed and the ACDelco team was forced to push Harvick behind the wall. They quickly turned to changing the rear end gear with a great deal of assistance from their RCR teammates on the Rockwell Automation No. 21 team.
Remarkably, the two teams had the gear changed and Harvick was back out racing in just eight laps and running in 33rd position. At this point, Harvick and company turned to picking up as many spots as possible and securing as many points for the championship race as they could.
Harvick got one of his eight laps back on lap 117 when the caution flag flew while he was running in 30th position. He picked up one more spot after he pitted on lap 158 and two more on lap 178 as he turned the fastest lap times on the track. He finished 27th, but more importantly, Greg Biffle, who is second in the Busch points to Harvick, finished 39th after an early race wreck.
"That was really bad luck for the ACDelco team," Harvick said. "I don't know what happened. I let the clutch out and hit the gas and the rear end must have let go. It was pretty disappointing because we had the fastest car on the track and if we played our cards right, we could've won the race. The ACDelco and the Rockwell guys did a great job of changing rear end gears so quickly. That helped us pick up six spots and that can be critical over the course of the season. Fortunately for us, Biffle finished 12 spots behind us so we didn't get hurt in the points. We actually built our lead."
Harvick now possesses a 138-point lead over Biffle, 168 over Jason Keller and 239 over Jeff Green. The teams head next weekend to Gateway International Raceway for Saturday night's race just outside St. Louis. Harvick is the defending race champion which is the site of his first career Busch win last July.