Late-race pit penalty helps Harvick to season's best finish

A late-race pit road penalty appeared to curtail Kevin Harvick’s chances at victory Sunday but it also produced an opportunity.

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light For The Farmers
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light For The Farmers
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light For The Farmers

After a caution on Lap 231 of 267 in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, all the lead-lap cars elected to pit, including Harvick, who was running fourth at the time.

During his stop, however, a tire got away from his team and Harvick was assessed an uncontrolled tire penalty by NASCAR, forcing him to restart from the rear of the field.

With few cautions in the race to that point, Harvick’s chances at a good finish appeared dim, but the race would see three more cautions in the final 30 laps.

That gave Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team a chance to try some strategy, pitting for new tires, which allowed Harvick to be much more aggressive at the end of the race, leading to his second-place finish.

The drivers battling for the win at the time – Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney – remained on the track on older tires to the race’s finish unwilling to give up their track position.

“You know, we were a little bit off at the beginning. The guys did a great job of adjusting our car and getting our car better throughout the day. Then we had a pit road penalty while we were running fourth there and had to go to the back,” Harvick said.

“Luckily we had a couple cautions and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) made a couple great calls and put tires on the car a couple times and really put us on offense there at the end and were able to get a couple good restarts and come out with a good finish.”

SHR's uphill climb

Harvick remains winless on the season and didn’t lead a lap in Sunday’s race but he did manage to earn his best finish of the season.

SHR continues to fight through organization-wide performance struggles but Harvick has been able to make the most out of a difficult season.

“I think we all just want to win. You never know how the year is going to start. I think we’ve done a good job with everything that we have except for a couple weeks where we had some bad luck with flat tires,” he said.

“Some years start out good and you go like gangbusters and some years they don’t start out good and you have to figure it out. So that’s just part of the game.

“I’ve been around this for a long time, and you just keep grinding away, and hopefully eventually you pick it up, and if you don’t, you start over the next year.”

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