Ill-Handling Car Sees Outback Steakhouse Driver Just Miss Top-10 Finish
Date: April 26, 2014
Event: Richmond 400 (Round 9 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 5th/11th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), struggled with an ill-handling racecar and finished 11th in the Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
“We never could get the car to turn through the center of the corner,” Harvick said. “We lacked rear grip and got behind on one run with a funky set of tires there. We kind of got caught back in the swarm and were never able to quite make it up. It all just didn’t line up right on the restarts there at the end. We were just a little bit off tonight with our Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet.”
Harvick started fifth in the 43-car field and, despite battling a tight-handling condition on corner entry and loose-handling condition on exit, was able to overtake Brad Keselowski on lap 32 for the lead. Harvick continued to maintain presence toward the front of the pack for much of the first half of the race thanks to fine-tuning adjustments by his Rodney Childers-led crew.
Shortly after halfway, Harvick’s No. 4 began moving the wrong way down the scoring pylon. He reported to his crew that he was dealing with an extremely tight-handling situation and, thanks in part to an extended green-flag run, fell back as far as the 12th position on lap 290. The team surmised that it was likely a bad set of tires and that Harvick would have to weather the storm until they had an opportunity to solve his handling woes.
A timely caution period on lap 295 saw Harvick hit pit road to rectify the situation. He was able to advance as high as eighth when the caution flag waved once again, on lap 367, giving Childers one last chance at making air pressure and chassis adjustments. Despite the crew’s best efforts, Harvick was unable to return to the form he showed early in the race. A series of late-race cautions limited the laps that Harvick needed to make his move toward the front of the field. When the checkered flag dropped, Harvick was 11th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 21st and finished 23rd.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 20th and finished 25th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 35th and finished 34th.
Joey Logano won the Richmond 400 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Richmond.
Jeff Gordon finished .946 of a second behind Logano in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. A.J. Allmendinger, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 66 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
With round nine of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 15th with 243 points, 98 behind first-place Gordon. Harvick is 20th with 220 points, 121 out of first. Kurt Busch is 25th with 185 points, 156 out of first. Patrick is 29th with 153 points, 188 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday, May 4 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 12:30 p.m.