Jimmy John’s Driver Led Twice For 72 Laps
Date: April 3, 2016
Event: Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 19th/17th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 1st with 220 points
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), had a promising afternoon derailed on a late-race restart and finished 17th Sunday afternoon at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in the Martinsville 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The 2014 Sprint Cup champion started 19th and raced his way to the lead by lap 101 of the 500-lap race. He remained near the front of the field virtually the entire day, running solidly inside the top-five until the final 40 laps.
The Bakersfield, California native was racing in the fourth position when a caution flag flew on lap 457. During the caution, crew chief Rodney Childers called the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and fuel, and Harvick returned to the racetrack in fourth. Starting in the outside lane of the second row proved to be a challenge as Harvick fought to get his No. 4 Chevrolet to the bottom but lost several positions in the process.
The final caution of the day flew on lap 483 as Harvick was racing in the ninth position. He stayed out during the caution and restarted sixth with 12 laps remaining. On the final restart, he again got stuck in the outside lane, and continued to fall through the field until the checkered flag flew as he was racing in the 17th position.
The Sprint Cup points leader led twice for 72 laps to bring his season total to 485 laps led through the first six races of the season. The 17th-place finish, however, ended his streak of nine consecutive top-10 finishes dating back to last season. It was also Harvick’s third consecutive race leading at least 70 laps.
Brian Vickers, interim driver of the No. 14 Janssen/Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation Chevrolet SS for SHR as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, led the four-car SHR contingent at Martinsville.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 13th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 TaxAct Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 16th.
The victory in the Martinsville 500 was Kyle Busch’s 35th career Sprint Cup win, his first of the season and his first at Martinsville.
AJ Allmendinger finished .663 of a second behind Kyle Busch in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Vickers, Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 51 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
With round six of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He remains first with 220 points, four ahead of second-place Johnson. Kurt Busch is eighth with 176 points, 44 out of first. Patrick is 26th with 97 points, 123 out of first. Vickers is 31st with 82 points, 138 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Duck Commander 500 on Saturday, April 9 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.
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