Busch Fishing Driver Collected in Last-Lap Accident
Date: May 1, 2016
Event: GEICO 500 (Round 10 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 29th/15th (Running, completed 188 of 188 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (351 points, 9 points ahead of second)
Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Fishing Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 15th in Sunday’s GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ managed to avoid most of the mayhem that unfolded during the 188-lap race, save for the last – a final-lap accident that saw his No. 4 Chevrolet go up and into the outside retaining wall of the frontstretch before coming to rest just past the finish line.
“It was just unfortunate for our Busch Trophy Can Chevrolet,” said Harvick, who won the Sprint Cup race at Talladega in April 2010. “We just got shuffled out there and in a pretty big wreck at the end. But all in all it was an okay day. We led some laps and ran up front – just got shuffled out. We got back there and racing where we didn’t need to be racing and got crashed. We still finished, it is just torn up.”
The GEICO 500 unfolded under the threat of rain for most of the day. The Bakersfield, California, native started 29th and made quick work to position the No. 4 Chevy safely within the top-20. For the most part, Harvick quietly logged laps. It wasn’t until teams started preparing for the first pit stop of the day that he reported the car was on the verge of being too loose and told his crew to avoid any adjustments that would send the car to the free side.
Harvick continued his pace just inside the top-20 for the next several circuits around the 2.66-mile oval. While he was operating with a preservation mentality, he also noted he was having a hard time getting the car to go.
As the event inched closer to the halfway point, rain showers continued to build to the west of the track. Crew chief Rodney Childers elected to exercise a little strategy to secure track position for the Busch Fishing Chevrolet by bringing Harvick to pit road for four tires and fuel just past the midway point – a gamble that could place the No. 4 Chevy in the lead should the race conclude due to rain. While Harvick was on pit road, an accident unfolded on the backstretch, bringing out the caution flag. As the rest of the field made their respective trips to pit road for fuel, Harvick took over the top spot and led the field back to green-flag racing conditions on lap 102.
Harvick was a fixture at the front of the field for the second half of the race, leading four times for a total of nine laps. As the race neared the conclusion of its scheduled 188 laps, drivers started dicing in an effort to get to the front of the field, resulting in a series of cautions during the final 25 laps. After being shuffled out of the top-10, Harvick lined up 15th for the final restart on lap 185. As he was coming around to take the checkered flag, Harvick got turned, with the No. 4 Chevy getting slightly airborne and finally coming to rest back on the track past the finish line in 15th place.
Ty Dillon, the relief driver for Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS, led SHR at Talladega by finishing sixth in the GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
While Dillon qualified the No. 14 Chevrolet on Saturday in the 14th position, Stewart started the 500-mile race from the rear of the field with the plan for Dillon to relieve him at the first caution. Since Stewart started the race, he is able to receive the points per the NASCAR rulebook. As such, the final box score will show that Stewart earned his 14th top-10 finish in 34 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. It was also his 301st top-10 in 592 Sprint Cup starts.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy Chevrolet SS, started 18th and finished eighth. It was Busch’s 16th top-10 in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. It was also his 230th top-10 in 550 career Sprint Cup starts.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 24th after being involved in a hard crash that resulted in a mandatory trip to the infield care center, where she was evaluated and released.
Brad Keselowski won the GEICO 500 to score his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his fourth at Talladega.
With the race ending under caution, Kyle Busch finished second behind Keselowski, while Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five. Stewart/Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney and Trevor Bayne comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 41 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish the 188-lap race around the 2.66-mile oval.
With round 10 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is the new points leader with 351, nine ahead of second-place Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch is sixth with 312 points, 39 points out of first. Patrick is 26th with 166 points, 185 out of first. Stewart is 38th with 57 points, and currently sits 71 points behind 30th-place Matt DiBenedetto. Stewart is hoping to win a race over the course of the next 18 races and make it within the top-30 in the standings in order to earn a Chase berth in his final season.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Go Bowling 400 on Saturday, May 7, at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.