Race 5 of 33: Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway
Track Specs: 2-mile oval / 200 laps
Weather: Sunny; 81 deg.
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Harvick’s finish: 1st
Kevin Harvick put on a dominant performance in Saturday’s Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway, leading 100 of 150 laps en route to his first NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) victory at the track. Harvick, driving the No. 88 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, earned his 46th career NXS victory and his second of 2015. The win is the Bakersfield, Calif. native’s sixth for JR Motorsports in only 18 races and marked the second career victory for Dave Elenz as a crew chief.
After starting sixth, Harvick radioed that he was fighting a loose handling condition on the TaxSlayer Chevy. When the first caution occurred on lap 34, Harvick pitted and Elenz called for significant adjustments to the No. 88 Camaro. Harvick restarted in the third spot on lap 37 and jumped to the lead before the end of the lap.
Following the second caution on lap 48, the TaxSlayer.com driver fended off several challengers, including Erik Jones and Darrell Wallace Jr., who both took the lead briefly before Harvick regained it on lap 55. The two-time NXS champion gave up the top spot to make a green-flag pit stop on lap 76, but by lap 87 he returned to the lead, which he maintained for the remainder of the 150-lap event.
The win advances the No. 88 team to second in the NXS owner’s standings, just eight points removed from the top spot. The victory was Harvick’s sixth for JRM, tying Brad Keselowski for most wins by a JRM driver, and giving JRM its 23rd overall NXS victory.
Following Harvick to the stripe were Brendan Gaughan, Jones, Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher.
Kevin Harvick, driver No. 88 TaxSlayer.com team
“Everybody on our TaxSlayer.com team and at JR Motorsports is doing a great job. I’m just the lucky guy that gets to drive these cars. I’m really proud of this team particularly, because we have a lot of new guys that have come together really fast, and we’re communicating and running well.
“The restarts were pretty fun. I got into the fence two or three times, but you had to really get aggressive on the restarts because everybody wanted to run in the same lane. All in all, just a good, smooth day. They did a great job on pit road getting me in and out, and Dave (Elenz) made some really good adjustments on the first pit stop and again on the last pit stop when we took the last set of tires. These guys are doing a great job and I know that every time we win a race, the pressure will become a little bit less and they will get a little bit more comfortable. It’s just a lot of fun to see new guys win races.”