Late-Race Accident Forces Busch Beer Driver Out of Race
Date: Aug. 7, 2016
Event: Cheez-It 355k at The Glen (Round 22 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (2.45-mile, 11-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 15th/32nd (Accident, completed 83 of 90 laps)
Point Standing: 2nd (718 points, 9 out of first)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 32nd in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355k at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International after a late-race accident eliminated him from contention.
“I started getting checked up, and I think the No. 23 (David Ragan) hit me from behind, and we all just kind of piled in there,” said Harvick, the 2006 winner at Watkins Glen. “Everybody on our Busch team did a great job today. I was battling some brake issues and just trying to maintain the brakes, but they got me great track position and up in the front. Then, coming to the yellow that one time, I got into the Speedy Dry and the front tire locked up, so we had to pit. But we had it where we needed to be. We just got back there, and we got tore up.”
Harvick started 15th and quietly logged laps around the 2.45-mile road course. On lap 21 during a stretch of green-flag racing, crew chief Rodney Childers called the 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion to pit road for fuel. It was a strategic move designed to take the No. 4 Busch Beer racecar to the end of the race on just one additional pit stop and allow Harvick to make up some track position as the frontrunners proceeded to do the same in the following laps.
The strategy worked. Harvick steadily picked off positions, arriving in the top-10 by lap 42 and climbing to sixth place by the time the second caution of the race was displayed on lap 48. Harvick had reached the runner-up spot when the third caution was displayed on lap 53, but while coming to a restart with approximately 35 laps to go, things started to go south for the Bakersfield, California, native.
At some point during one of the cautions Harvick had driven through some oil on the track, but he didn’t realize it until he was slowing down for the fourth caution on lap 56. As he braked, the No. 4 Chevy was sent sliding, which led to Harvick reporting concern that one of the front tires might have been flat spotted. He was in second place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 59, but after driving into turn one he discovered the tire had indeed been damaged. Harvick brought the Busch Beer Chevy to pit road as soon as he made it back to the opening, and after a stop for tires and a splash of fuel he returned to the track deep in the field in 33rd place.
Harvick patiently logged laps and attempted to pick up track position as the laps wound down, but while coming up to speed during one of the final restarts he was caught up in a multicar accident at lap 83 that took the No. 4 Chevy out of the race.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent at Watkins Glen by finishing fifth. It was Stewart’s fifth top-five this season and his eighth top-five in 16 career Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 11th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st. Patrick led once for 11 laps. She was involved in the multicar incident on lap 83 but was able to return to the race and finish on the lead lap.
Denny Hamlin won the Cheez-It 355k at The Glen by 2.065 seconds over Joey Logano to score his 28th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Watkins Glen. Brad Keselowski finished third, while AJ Allmendinger and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 20 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 90-lap race around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course.
With round 22 of 36 complete, Harvick continues to lead SHR in the championship standings. He fell from first to second with 718 points, nine behind new point leader Keselowski. Kurt Busch is third with 689 points, 38 behind first. Patrick is 24th with 413 points, 121 ahead of 31st-place Chris Buescher. Stewart is 26th with 389 points, 97 ahead of 31st.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are all eligible to compete in the 16-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. All have won a race this season and are among the top-30 in points, the two requirements necessary to secure a spot in the Chase. Patrick can also earn a Chase berth by winning a race and staying inside the top-30. Five races remain before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Aug. 20, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 8 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.
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