Jimmy John’s Driver Endures Handling Issues in Duck Commander 500
Date: April 9, 2016
Event: Duck Commander 500 (Round 7 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 22nd/10th (Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd (252 points, seven behind new leader Kyle Busch)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 10th in Saturday’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
It was evident early in the race that the team’s challenge would be to get the No. 4 Chevrolet’s handling dialed in. Quickly after the green flag waved, Harvick noted that the car was too tight and needed rear grip when exiting the turns. Crew chief Rodney Childers implemented wedge adjustments into the team’s pit strategy, and by lap 133 Harvick reported that handling had improved but encouraged the team to stay aggressive with adjustments.
The Bakersfield, California, native ran as high as fourth before the car began trending on the tight side again. He managed to stay within the top-10 despite the tight handling until, during a caution stop on lap 212, the team was penalized for an uncontrolled tire and speeding on pit road. Harvick restarted from the rear of the field.
The No. 4 soon rejoined the top-10, but Harvick continued to battle an ill-handling racecar through the remainder of the event. His 10th-place finish marked his 263rd career top-10, his 15th at Texas and his sixth this season.
“We just couldn’t ever get a read on what we needed and where we needed to go and what we needed to do; and me speeding on pit road compounded the problem,” Harvick said. “We just battled the car all weekend and never really got it right. So, chalk that one up to experience, and we’ll move on to something else and keep trying to get better. That’s really what it was all about was trying to get better.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway with his ninth-place finish. It was his 227th career top-10 finish, his 15th at Texas and his fifth in seven races this season.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st.
Brian Vickers, interim driver of the No. 14 TaxAct Military Files Free Chevrolet SS for SHR as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 37th after being collected in an accident on lap 290 of the 334-lap race.
Kyle Busch won the Duck Commander 500 for his 36th career Sprint Cup win, his second in a row, and his second win and sixth top-10 finish of the season. It was also his 11th top-10 finish and second career win at Texas.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3.904 seconds behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and rookie Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch and Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 41 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the race.
With round seven of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is third with 252 points, seven behind new leader Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch is seventh with 208 points, 51 out of first. Patrick is 24th with 117 points, 142 out of first. Vickers is 31st with 86 points, 173 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Food City 500 on Sunday, April 17, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.