Outback Steakhouse Driver’s Top-10 Leads to “Bloomin’ Monday”
Date: Nov. 1, 2015
Event: Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 (Round 33 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 12th/8th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 4,037 points, 10 out of first in the Eliminator Round of Chase
Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished eighth in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the first race of the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It was Harvick’s 25th top-10 of the season, one short of his single-season career-high of 26 set in 2010.
Whenever Harvick finishes in the top-10 of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, fans can get a free Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse on the Monday immediately following the race. Fans simply need to reference the promotion to their server to receive their Bloomin’ Onion.
Harvick started 12th, raced his way into the top-five by lap 77 and took the lead by lap 199. He led the field for 37 circuits, until lap 236.
The Bakersfield, California, native continued to race in the top-five until he brought his car to pit road under caution on lap 430. Following a four-tire pit stop, Harvick was jockeying for position leaving pit road and made contact with the No. 41 driven by Kurt Busch. The incident caused left-front damage to the No. 4 Chevrolet. A quick caution followed on lap 436 shortly after the restart, which allowed Harvick to bring the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road to repair the damage and get four fresh tires.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion returned to the racetrack in the 17th position on lap 434 and had raced his way to 14th when an incident involving several cars in the top-10 brought out the caution on lap 436. That event allowed Harvick to move back into the top-10 and up to the ninth position.
A major incident involving race leader Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth followed on lap 455 and resulted in a nearly 13-minute red flag period. As the race resumed on lap 460, Harvick brought the No. 4 Chevrolet back to pit road for four tires and fuel and returned to the racetrack in 10th.
The final caution of the day came out on lap 495, bringing a three-lap dash to the finish. Harvick restarted ninth on the bottom lane on lap 498 and raced his way to eighth place by the checkered flag on lap 500.
“This Outback/Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevy ran really well today,” said Harvick, who won the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville in April 2011. “We got run into coming out of the pits, and I couldn’t really tell how bad it was. Rodney (Childers, crew chief), I could tell the panic in his voice. Luckily the caution came out, because I saw the smoke coming out of the left-front tire. It was a good call to come back in. We were able to get a couple of good restarts there; and then with the front smashed in and everything happening, it was just way too tight back there in traffic. All in all, it was a good day with a lot of chaotic things doing on. On the racetrack we just needed to finish that one where we were running; not having a chance to win, we just needed to capitalize on some other peoples’ bad day.”
Harvick led once for 37 laps to bring his season total to 2,094 with three races still remaining in the 2015 season. He is on track to set a new career high, eclipsing his previous laps-led mark of 2,137 set last year en route to the Sprint Cup championship.
Harvick led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday by finishing eighth.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 10th to score his 300th top-10 result in 587 career Sprint Cup races. It was also his 17th top-10 in 33 career Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, finished 34th and Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 40th.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 40th after two separate crashes eventually ended her race almost 100 laps short of the finish.
Jeff Gordon scored a popular victory in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. It was his 93rd career Sprint Cup win, his first of the season and his ninth at Martinsville. This is Gordon’s final Sprint Cup season, and the victory punched his ticket to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Nov. 22 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jamie McMurray finished .335 of a second behind Gordon in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Stewart comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 18 caution periods for 109 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race around the .526-mile oval.
As the seventh race in the 10-race Chase, Martinsville served as the first race in the Eliminator Round. The original, 16-driver Chase field was whittled down to 12 following the Oct. 4 race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the Contender Round. The next cutoff race came Oct. 25 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, whereupon the Chase field shrank to eight for the Eliminator Round. Another two races will be run in this round, where after the Nov. 15 race at Phoenix International Raceway, only four drivers will advance to the final, winner-take-all Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick and Busch continue to represent SHR in the Chase. Harvick leaves Martinsville fourth in points, 10 behind Chase leader Gordon. Busch leaves Martinsville in seventh, 36 points out of first.
With two races remaining before the Chase field is whittled down to four drivers for the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the top-eight drivers still competing for this year’s title rank as follows:
1. Jeff Gordon (4,047 points) +2
2. Kyle Busch (4,039 points, -8) +6
3. Martin Truex Jr. (4,039, -8) +3
4. Kevin Harvick (4,037 points, -10) +3
5. Carl Edwards (4,030 points, -17) -3
6. Brad Keselowski (4,013, 34) -1
7. Kurt Busch (4,011 points, -36) -3
8. Joey Logano (4,009 points, -38) -7
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 8 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC.