Hard charging Harvick leads PayDay Racing team to another Top-10 -Pit strategy misfortune proves to work out in the end- ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 24) - Kevin Harvick drove the PayDay Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish in ...
Hard charging Harvick leads PayDay Racing team to another Top-10
-Pit strategy misfortune proves to work out in the end-
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 24) - Kevin Harvick drove the PayDay Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish in today's Rockingham 200 NASCAR Busch Series event at North Carolina Speedway.
The Rockingham 200, originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, was postponed due to rain showers.
Harvick qualified the PayDay Chevrolet for the eighth position on the starting grid on Friday. However, due to engine failure on the first lap of Friday's last practice, the PayDay Racing mechanics had to give the PayDay Chevrolet a new engine. NASCAR mandates that a team must use the same engine throughout the week, and because the PayDay team had to switch engines, the team was penalized and Harvick had to start in 42nd place.
Harvick's 42nd-place start proved to be just a minor bump in the road. After a caution on lap four, Harvick was 29th, and by lap 23 Harvick found the top 15. At lap 23 Harvick's lap times were four-tenths of a second quicker than the leaders' lap times.
A caution flag on lap 28 gave the PayDay team its first pit stop and a chance to make adjustments on the car. Harvick told his crew that the car was harder to turn than it should be, resulting in a tight condition. PayDay crew chief Butch Hylton called for a half-pound air pressure adjustment, four tires and a full tank of fuel. Harvick was back on the track in the 11th position after the pit stop.
By lap 80, 18 laps shy of the halfway mark, Harvick was ranked fifth, his highest ranking of the day.
With momentum on its side, the PayDay team decided to take a risk. On lap 106, Hylton elected to have Harvick pit before the leaders. Because he pitted during green-flag conditions, Harvick was passed twice by the leaders, but he was supposed to gain those laps back when the leaders came in to pit late while Harvick stayed on track. However, when Harvick returned to the race, a caution flag was thrown and the leaders pitted without losing laps to Harvick, who was 27th.
A lap 118 wreck between Shane Hmiel and Mike Wallace forced NASCAR to stop the race temporarily so safety crews could remove fuel and oil. The delay gave the PayDay team a chance to regroup and develop a plan to get even with the leaders.
Harvick raced his way through the field and got into position to get his first of two laps back. At lap 164 caution flag came out, and Harvick got his first lap back. Hylton called the PayDay Chevy in for four tires and fuel.
The caution flag came out again on lap 171 and Harvick was back on the lead lap and in 16th place.
After the safety crews had cleaned up the track and the caution flag pit stops were complete, the field was left with a 16-lap dash to the finish. Harvick charged from the 12th position, and found himself as high as eighth for a lap, but he settled into the 10th position to finish the race.
The race was won by Jamie McMurray. McMurray dominated for most of the day, leading 192 of the 197 laps. Along with the win, McMurray also came away as the top-ranked driver before the third event at Las Vegas. Harvick is third in the standings, just 36 points behind McMurray and 11 points behind Todd Bodine, who is ranked second.
The Sam's Town 300, the next race on the schedule, will air live from the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 1, at 3:30 p.m. EDT on the FX cable network and the MRN radio network.