After flat tire, Kevin Harvick just tried "to find a safe spot"

In the end, Kevin Harvick still advanced to the Championship 4 but the journey there was anything but smooth.

After flat tire, Kevin Harvick just tried "to find a safe spot"
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Light
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Light
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Light
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Light
Pole sitter Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Busch Light

Harvick appeared well on his way to redeeming himself from a NASCAR penalty earlier in the week as he arrived at Phoenix with a very fast No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing.

He was fast in practice, won the pole and led the first 73 laps of Sunday’s Can-Am 500.

But just as he was getting passed by Chase Elliott for the lead, Harvick felt his right-rear tire going down. He dove down pit road, even though it was closed for the end of the stage, to ensure no extra damage occurred to his car.

Harvick spent the remainder of the race battling back from that hole but by the end of the race, he was back in contention for a strong finish and a spot in the Championship 4.

“I felt (the tire) start to go down going into Turn 1 there and just slowed down to the point where I thought I could at least make it back to the pits and not hit the wall,” Harvick said. “It came at an OK time because it didn’t tear the car up. 

“You know, in that instance you just hope that the sway bar stays connected, and that’s really the biggest worry. I hadn’t looked under the car and seen how bad it drug it all off, but it was good enough to keep going, and the sway bar was still hooked up, so that was the main thing.”

Almirola's late challenge

As long as Harvick’s SHR teammate, Aric Almirola, didn’t win the race, Harvick would advance to the final four by points.

As it turned out, Almirola was fast and in contention for the win, sending the outcome in doubt down to the finish. Almirola, on fresher tires, eventually got passed by both Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson and dropped to fourth.

Harvick ended up fifth to cement his championship opportunity.

“It never really drove as well after that, but we kept ourselves in position all day,” he said. “There at the end, it was just like with everybody wrecking and all over the place, we just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find a safe spot there.”

Harvick will attempt to win his second championship next weekend with a different crew chief at the helm. His regular crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended the final two races as part of the penalty the No. 4 team received earlier this week.

Sunday’s race was the first with interim crew chief Tony Gibson leading the team.

Asked to assess his chances at Homestead, Harvick said, “I think we have a chance every time we show up. Our guys are doing a great job obviously to accomplish everything we did this weekend was quite the feat without your crew chief and car chief.

“But Tony Gibson and (interim car chief) Nick (DeFazio) did a great job filling in and everybody kept their head about them and we were competitive all weekend.”

shares
comments
Almirola "oh so close" to advancing to Homestead

Previous article

Almirola "oh so close" to advancing to Homestead

Next article

Kurt Busch: “I just didn’t get the job done" at Phoenix

Kurt Busch: “I just didn’t get the job done" at Phoenix
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021