Jimmy John’s Driver Led Sprint Cup Regular Season In Points
Date: Sept. 10, 2016
Event: Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 26 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 19th/5th (Running, completed 407 of 407 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (876 points, 42 ahead of second); 4th seed in Chase (2,006 points, 6 out of first)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) in overtime
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), battled back from an early pit-road speeding penalty to secure a top-five finish in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. It was Harvick’s series-best 13th top-five finish this season and his 11th top-five finish in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Richmond.
Harvick started 19th and raced his way into the top-10 by lap 70. He continued his march toward the front and was running seventh when he came to pit road for four tires under caution on lap 245 of the scheduled 400-lap event. However, the No. 4 team was hit with a penalty for speeding on the exit of pit road and dropped back to the 23rd position for the following restart on lap 250.
The 2014 Sprint Cup Series Champion battled back to the top-10 by lap 322. He continued to race hard through a flurry of late-race caution flags and ran fifth at the lap-407 overtime finish.
“I’m especially excited about the last month that we are coming off of with the performance,” said Harvick, who has three Sprint Cup Series wins at Richmond. “I am probably most excited about tonight, because pit road was awesome. They did a great job on pit road. This is probably the worst car that we’ve had all year, all weekend, and they just kept fighting and kept punching numbers in the computer and kept changing things. I got a speeding penalty there trying to get too much and got us behind even more and then still came back to get a top-five. Just really proud of the effort that we had tonight, but you look at Michigan and then you look at the Bristol win and Darlington, everything just seems to be clicking at the right time. Just really happy with everybody on our team.”
Harvick’s fifth-place result led the four-car SHR contingent at Richmond.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished eighth. It was his 17th top-10 this season and his 13th top-10 in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Richmond.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 15th.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 33rd after an accident on lap 363.
Denny Hamlin won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 29th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his third at Richmond.
Kyle Larson finished .609 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Harvick rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Busch, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There was a record 16 caution periods for 89 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the race, which went into overtime and finished seven laps beyond its scheduled 400 circuits at the .75-mile oval.
Richmond marked the last race of the regular season. Now the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins.
NASCAR recalibrated the points for the 16 Chase drivers as soon as the Richmond race was over, with each driver getting 2,000 points. Drivers also received three bonus points for each of their respective wins during the 26-race regular season. For drivers starting the Chase with identical point totals, their seed was determined by the traditional tiebreaker of best finishes beyond race victories.
Positions 1-13 in the Chase field were determined by the drivers with the greatest number of wins after the first 26 races. Positions 14-16 went to the drivers who, while winless during the regular season, were the highest in points.
Harvick qualified for the Chase by virtue of his wins at Phoenix International Raceway in March and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August. Each of his regular-season victories was worth three bonus points. As such, Harvick carries six bonus points into the Chase to slot fourth among the 16 drivers. Harvick finished the regular season ranked first with 876 points. This is Harvick’s seventh consecutive Chase appearance and his 10th overall. He won the Sprint Cup championship in 2014.
Busch qualified for the Chase via his win at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June. He’ll start the Chase 10th with three bonus points. Busch finished the regular season ranked fifth with 762 points. This is Busch’s fourth-straight Chase appearance and 10th overall. He won the championship in his Chase debut in 2004.
Stewart qualified for the Chase via his win at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He’ll start the Chase 12th with three bonus points. Stewart finished the regular season ranked 27th with 434 points. This is Stewart’s ninth Chase appearance and his first since 2012. Stewart won the Sprint Cup championship in 2005 and 2011. He won his first championship in 2002 under the former season-long format.
Ranked in order of where their bonus points seeded them, the 16 drivers competing for this year’s championship are:
Kyle Busch (2,012 points)
Brad Keselowski (2,012 points)
Denny Hamlin (2,009 points, -3)
Kevin Harvick (2,006 points, -6)
Carl Edwards (2,006 points, -6)
Martin Truex Jr. (2,006 points, -6)
Matt Kenseth (2,006 points, -6)
Jimmie Johnson (2,006 points, -6)
Joey Logano (2,003 points, -9)
Kurt Busch (2,003 points, -9)
Kyle Larson (2,003 points, -9)
Tony Stewart (2,003 points, -9)
Chris Buescher (2,003 points, -9)
Chase Elliott (2,000 points, -12)
Austin Dillon (2,000 points, -12)
Jamie McMurray (2,000 points, -12)
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the first race of the Chase – is the Sept. 18 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.